Lead, Follow, or Get Out of the Way

A conference speaker once advised, “Don’t get out of the way. Lead, and follow a leader.” I agree with leading, and I agree there are times to let others lead. Consider the goose story my evidence.

There are also times that getting out of the way for a little while can  communicate belief in others. Temporarily turning over complete ownership of a process can be a transformative experience.

Some schools have climates of top-down initiatives. In those cases, rescuing teacher voice is important. Why not let teachers’ voices be central to the exploration of a problem that affects everyone? Couldn’t the larger set of brainpower lead to the formulation of potential solutions? Anothony Colucci lists four attributes that make teacher-leadership experiences more than lip service.

Jim Collins explains the concept of Level 5 Leadership in his book, Good to Great. It implies that sometimes administrators can be more effective when they provide staff with research and implement a process for developing consensus rather than making decisions that require compliance. The same would apply to team leaders, department leaders, and instructional coaches.


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