Being a leader in 2022 is the same, different, or we don't know? Do the qualities and skills need to be the same? What are your thoughts? Do we need different leadership qualities? What is the most important quality for a leader? Why?

I believe a job title does not define leadership. Leadership is part of our lives at different stages and areas. We provide opportunities for children to explore, experience, and engage in leadership. We have many lists of characteristics and qualities created over many decades to identify excellent leaders. Has leadership changed? Do the qualities change? How can we help children grow to become great leaders?

We need your help! Tell us what qualities do great leaders need.

“Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.” Galatians 6:9. The Harvest is Coming is a chapter in Dr. Femi Skanes's book, Encouragement for The School Leader’s Soul. You can purchase a copy on Amazon! Connect with her at:

Dr. Skane is a Principal in Chicago, Illinois, and one of the breakout session speakers provided at the Illinois Principal Conference this year. She held two sessions which were both excellent. My favorite one to help all leaders was her session on Family Engagement Reimagined.

If you follow the news and politics, you know parent involvement and engagement are the centers of conversations. I say amen! Education should always be a priority for everyone. If you noticed, I used two words, involvement and engagement. Why? Great question! There is a difference between the two and you need both!

When we discuss the involvement of parents and families, we mean “doing to” them. While engagement indicates “doing with” families as they bring ideas, thoughts, and actions to collaborate. Let's look at a couple of examples to see if you can see the difference.

We ask parents to come to school for a meeting. During the meeting, we ask parents to look at the new reading books we received. Please read with your child each week and track it in the reading log.

Is that involvement or engagement?

Parents and families are invited to come to our “New Reading Night” to highlight our new reading books. We will be looking at fresh ideas of ways to explore, excite and engage all students. Hope to see you there with great ideas to share!

Is this involvement or engagement?

Parents need to be involved and engaged with your school. You share the same goals and wants for the children. You accepted the position you hold because you want to bring out the best in all you serve. This includes your families and communities.

We are leading into a time of fatigue for educators if we have not already reached it. However, we must not lose sight of the fantastic harvest heading our way because of our collective efforts. We will, we are, and we remain the core of what makes America. Without education, you would not have a well-structured home to live in, roads to travel on, grocery stores to go to, doctors to visit, churches to attend, and so much more. All because of education.

The school year is almost half over, and many students will begin new chapters in their book of life in which you helped with many of the pages. Take some time for yourself and help staff as much as possible to make the second half of the school year unforgettable. Bring a sense of stability to the world of uncertainty as leadership continues to have different views. Take time to plan, have a strategy, have a welcoming environment inside and out, provide and ask for feedback, take action on the information you receive, develop partnerships, network, and most importantly, bring FUN to all you do.

The first question above is involvement, and the second is engagement. It is simple to remember by doing to or doing with individuals; they are involved or engaged. You will find the same philosophy in my approach to all I do in my book Two Rule School.

The essential skill of a leader is to be an excellent communicator. Along with communication comes the duty of being factual, timely, informative, accurate, and trustworthy. Ken Blanchard, the leadership expert, launched an international study in 2016 to learn the critical skills leaders need. The study concluded with 43 percent indicating communication was the most crucial skill for effective leadership. Then 41 percent indicated poor communication skills as an ineffective leader's most significant flaw.

How can you improve your communication? Where can you get updated information, work on building your professional skills and continue to build trust with staff? In my career, I found it with the Illinois Principal Association. This team had it all! They have a legal and legislative team with Brian Schwartz and Allison Malley. The wealth of knowledge and up-to-date information is fantastic. If you have any questions, they are a click away. Quality professional learning provided by Dr. Susan Homes, Arlin Peebles, Lynn Woodrum, and the best ladies who always help me, Pam Burdine and Beth Broyles, is the best. There are so many more to mention on this team who are ready to help, but these are directly involved in my journey. Where do you go?

As a leader, find what works for you! IPA worked for me, but it was not my only source. It does not matter how long you have been a leader; you are always learning. Ken Blanchard is one of those expert leaders I have listened to through my career. Use the link below for a must-read. Follow these steps as you begin to improve your leadership at any stage.

Utilize the following link to inform yourself about communication.

These solutions will keep you moving in the right direction. Many blessings as you continue to serve.

“Our chief want is someone who will inspire us to be what we know we could be.”~Ralph Waldo Emerson

Did someone inspire you to be where you are today in your career or life? I reflect over mine and can identify several points of time where individuals inspired me, encouraged me, and pushed me—so blessed by each one.

“Mark Cole began his career working for John Maxwell 21 years ago. It was an inauspicious start for the man who would go on to be Chief Executive Officer of The John Maxwell Company and his nine organizations.” Mark started in the mailroom.

Bill Dodd shared a great post that follows along with my philosophy of solution-focused leadership. You can read the post about Mark Cole by clicking on his picture below. I pulled from the article the Four Questions all leaders must ask and How to view Leadership Problems. I added my idea of How to be Solution-Focused.

4 Questions All Leaders Must Ask

  1. When is the last time I learned something for the first time?
  2. When is the last time I did something for the first time?
  3. When is the last time I found something better for the first time?
  4. When is the last time I saw something bigger for the first time?

How To View Leadership Problems

How to be Solution-Focused

People who have a leadership mindset love solving problems. Every problem is an opportunity to learn and grow. Real leaders know there’s always an answer. Most of the time, there are multiple answers. When you focus first on solutions, we will get more solutions. After spending time on generating ideas for solutions, save them for your next brainstorming session?

COVID taught us to take problems and solve them. If we keep looking at problems, we will keep getting more. COVID does not seem to be going away and continues to be one of those topics that will generate a great deal of debate. Our debate should only be on ideas for solutions.

Which comes first, wisdom or knowledge? Wisdom is built on knowledge. So does that mean you can be both wise and knowledgeable? Then you can't be wise without being knowledgeable. What do you think? Is it the same as an egg before chicken or the chicken before an egg?

Knowledge is knowing about something. I have knowledge of the food in my garden and what grows on my trees. Wisdom is knowing how to apply the knowledge I have. In addition, how to use it in context. Like this old example: knowledge is knowing a tomato is a fruit, wisdom is knowing not to use it in a fruit salad. However, some people would say this is common sense.

I believe knowledge is gathered from learning and education. The more knowledge you gain about a subject area you can be identified as an expert in the area. Just because you have knowledge, it does not make you wise. When you have knowledge, you can make decisions with clarity of facts and truths.

In order for individuals to gain wisdom, it must be gathered from day-to-day experiences and is a state of being wise. Wisdom is the practical ability to make consistently good decisions in life from the individual's knowledge and experience.

Wisdom is a virtue. Is that a true statement? Wisdom can only be acquired through experience. Anyone who is interested in trying new things, reflecting on the process, analyzing, testing your knowledge and having a growth mindset has the ability to gain wisdom. In this process one should have knowledge first in order to become wise.

How do you compare knowledge and wisdom? Do you know individuals who are wise?

The beauty of nature is impressive to me, and I enjoy it all the time we can appreciate it all. We just had the opportunity to spend nine days with my sister-in-law and her husband in Gulf Shores, Alabama.

Each day from our balcony, we saw dolphins jumping, swimming, and diving. In addition, we saw groups of stingrays, pelicans, seagulls, and cranes. Then one evening, we found a baby bat. On our fishing trip, we saw a sea turtle, more dolphins and moon jellyfish, so many little lizards and crabs in the sand. The funniest thing was we had butterflies everywhere we went.

I captured this picture while we were enjoying an outside snack break at a beautiful little cafe’.

We went to dinner and asked a young lady to take our photo. She was so lovely and thoughtful. She shared with us she traveled here often for a vacation. She asked if we liked to read? Everyone looked at me. “Yes, I love it!”

She asked, “Do you know the author Andy Andrews? He is my favorite. He lives somewhere here in Orange Beach.”

I remember reading some of his work, and it hit me, The Butterfly Effect! I enjoyed this book. It is a quick read with a significant impact.

In 1963, Edward Lorenz made a presentation to the New York Academy of Sciences and was literally laughed out of the room. His theory, called the butterfly effect, stated that a butterfly could flap its wings and set air molecules in motion that, in turn, would move other air molecules—which would then move additional air molecules—even- tually becoming able to influence weather patterns on the other side of the planet. “Butterfly effect” theory says that one small change can influence a big change later. The theory leads you to believe we are all connected, and anything is possible.

As we ended the day, my brother-in-law said it was supposed to happen that we met this young lady to remind me about the book. To remember everything we do matters and makes a difference.

How true it is to know everything we do matters! Even if the “Butterfly Effect” can or cannot be scientifically proven, we do know by our choices and actions, change happens. We can choose to be part of the problem or part of the solution.

What can you do today, tomorrow, or the next to have an effect on the lives of others?

When you are trying to entertain during a long drive on vacation, when there is not a lot to see, you play games. Often we play: I spy with my little eye, something green. Then others take turns guessing what you see.

It is fun to learn about others when you play games. So asking the question, “Have you ever?” So my question today is, have you ever seen a sunrise like this? If you have, where did you see it? This is Gulf Shores, Alabama.

September 2021

Have you ever.......what? We had to travel today to leave our sunsets behind, but we will be home in time to see the sunset at home.

One of Merriam-Webster’s definitions for the word “intention” is “a determination to act in a certain way.” As we look at words and their meanings, we often find ourselves thinking of additional ones.

When you think of intention, what do you think of? I think of commitment. We take time to establish goals, make plans, and aim to accomplish. As we look at other words, how do they impact our intention?

We can start with good intentions, but without actions, we will fall short of our intention. Are you intentional with your actions to focus on what is essential?

As we face our days ahead, do you think about protection? The protection for self, others, and organization. Do you think about risk? Are you willing to take risks, support risks, and encourage risk?

Leaders must be willing to ask questions, challenge assumptions, and share dissenting views, even at the risk of disrupting a collegial atmosphere or displaying their lack of knowledge on a complex topic. It is critical to creating a safe environment to avoid “groupthink” and give permission for disagreement and constructive dissent as part of a healthy risk culture.

Helping yourself, colleagues, and the organization grows, we need to ask questions, have honest discussions, and take risks. Do we have the courage to work this way?

The foundation of what we believe is who we are. Stand firmly on the foundation of your core values, beliefs, and standards. How will you help build courage in others and yourself?

How do you sharpen your tools?

"I only have 2 rules!"
© 2024 Brenda Yoho
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