Showing posts with label leadership. Show all posts
Showing posts with label leadership. Show all posts

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

TESOL 2014 and Being a Leader

This was the first time I attended a TESOL and I was amazed at how big and how well-organized it is. It was great to see so many teachers from all over the world learning, sharing, motivating and being motivated. There was a huge variety of topics for the presentations, with options for everybody’s interests. I chose to attend those related to Teacher Development and Leadership not only because of my present position at Thomas, but also because I believe we teachers are always searching for professional development opportunities and we are all leaders.

There was one particular presentation I enjoyed a lot and would like to share with you: “Leadership Skills and Styles Affecting Leaders” by Dr. Sufian Abu-Rmaileh, from the United Arab Emirates University.

He started by defining Leadership:

“The act of identifying important goals and then motivating and enabling others to devote themselves and all necessary resources to its achievement. It includes summoning one’s self and others to learn and adapt to the new situation represented by the goal” (NYSBR 2003, p. 3)

“Much more an art, a belief, a condition of the heart, than a set of things to do” (De Pree 1989, p.148)

So, who is a leader?

Astin and Astin (2000) define a leader as anyone who has a formal position and who holds the role of bringing about change in the society in which they live and work.

De Pree (1990) says that one of the major tasks of a leader is to expand and unleash the talents and skills of the different people in the organization.

These definitions made me think of how much we teachers match them. Every semester we face different challenges to which we have to adapt and learn how to deal with. We are in charge of groups of students who need our constant guidance, model, assistance and motivation. More than teaching English, we teach them how to respect and help their peers, how to accept different opinions, how to overcome their difficulties. 

Good leaders help their team achieve their goal, which should be in accordance with the institution’s/organization’s. I particularly like De Pree’s  saying about the role of a leader. A good teacher/leader should be able to expand and unleash the talents and skills of the different people s/he leads.
There are different leadership styles and we can adopt different styles according to our and others’ necessities and in different moments of our life. Dr. Abu-Rmaileh talked about the six leadership styles listed below.

1.       Directive Leader:
Allows little or no negotiations
Keeps tight control without delegating
Is not flexible or open to new ideas

2.       Visionary Leader:
Has clear standards and feedback
Explains the logic behind procedures
Inspires people to a higher purpose for their work

3.       Affliliative Leader:
Creates harmony and affective/emotional bonding
Avoids confrontation with others
Provides little explanation on direction or rationale behind tasks

4.       Democratic/Participative Leader:
Collaboration and team concurrence
High on trust, respect and commitment
Motivates his/her team by empowering them to direct themselves

5.       Pacesetting Leader:
Sets high standards for performance
Obsesses about doing things better, faster, quicker
The pursuit of excellence is overwhelming

6.       Coaching Leader:
Helps team members to discover their own strengths and weaknesses
Guides people to find and create their own career development
Links goals, personal and career, with those of the organization

Leadership Matrix
How it Builds Resonance
Impact On Climate
When Appropriate
 Competency requirements
Moves people towards shared dreams
Most strongly positive
When changes require a new vision, or, when clear direction is needed
Self-Awareness, Self-Confidence, Empathy, Transparency, Visionary Leadership, Change Catalyst
Connects what a person wants with organisational goals
Highly positive
To help an employee improve performance by building long term capabilities
Self-Awareness, Empathy, Developing Others
Creates harmony by connecting people to each other
To heal rifts in a team, motivate during stressful times, or strengthen connections
Empathy, Teamwork & Collaboration, Conflict management, Building Bonds
Values peoples input and get commitment through participation
To build buy in or consensus, or to get valuable input from employees
Empathy, Teamwork & Collaboration, Influence
Meets challenging and exciting goals
Is often Highly Negative  - because it is generally poorly executed
To get high quality results from a motivated and competent team
Self-Awareness, Empathy, Self Control, Achievement Drive, Transparency, Initiative, Adaptability, Teamwork & Collaboration
Soothes fears by giving clear direction in an emergency
Can be Highly Negative – because so often misused
In a crisis, to kick start a turnaround, or with a problem employee
Self-Awareness, Self-Control, Empathy, Achievement drive, Initiative

I’m sure you have recognized yourself at different moments of your professional life in many of the characteristics listed above. These characteristics are just a few among many others for each style. We can select some and put them together to come up with our idea of an effective leader. Dr. Abu-Rmaileh presented effective leaders as being:

-          Visionary
  • -          Trustworthy, fair and honest
  • -          Role Models and Mentors – “Effective leaders demonstrate courage in difficult situations, and provide a model of moral leadership for other to emulate” (NYSBR, 2003, p. 2)
  • -          Visible
  • -          Dedicated – Effective leaders are dedicated to the institution which they serve. They have commitment and loyalty to the constituents and to the institution.
  • -          Good Communicators

The implications of good leadership are many. Good leadership in the classroom leads to a calm end of semester, not necessarily an easy one, but surely one in which we have a sense of accomplishment. Some of the implications Dr. Abu-Rmaileh talked about and I believe are appropriate for a classroom environment were:

  • -          Achievement drive: high level of effort, high levels of ambition, energy and initiative
  • -          Honesty and integrity: a trustworthy environment
  • -          Self-confidence: belief in one’s self, ideas and ability
  • -          Emotional maturity: well-adjusted groups

The presentation made me reflect on the kind of leader I am and the kind of leader I want to be, my personal characteristics that influence on my leadership style, and the aspects I need to work on in order to be a better leader. I hope it helps you see yourselves as leaders too and realize the importance of being a good leader.