“I know of no single formula for success. But over the years I have observed that some attributes of leadership are universal and are often about finding ways of encouraging people to combine their efforts, their talents, their insights, their enthusiasm and their inspiration to work together.” - Queen Elizabeth II. Professional experiences have a way of shaping your philosophy. If you’re lucky, you can find yourself working under the leadership of some incredible people. My own past experiences under the guidance of leadership has shaped the way I lead and manage my team today.
I believe that leadership is a duty, not a position: A duty to lead by example. It is a duty to work with your staff and encourage a sense of community that extends beyond the unit and transcends the organization. This is a privilege that is charged with vast responsibility; the responsibility to inspire, develop, mentor and empower them to believe in the mission, vision, and goals of your organization and put it into action.
It is important to be transparent, flexible, and approachable. Your staff must be recognized as the single most important asset and the foundation of your organization. Providing opportunities for personal and professional growth is essential and increases employee satisfaction and in turn, causes one to take pride in their work. They should feel comfortable in sharing the bad news as well as the good. For this to occur, open lines of communication and trust must be established very early in the relationship. Information sharing and shared governance—when appropriate—should be implemented to gain buy-in and participation at all levels of the organization.
“A genuine leader is not a searcher for consensus but a molder of consensus.” - Martin Luther King, Jr. Leadership should recognize that everyone has unique roles and talents. Creativity, freedom of action, and innovation should be encouraged in consistency with the mission, vision and values of the institution. It should create a culture of pride at all levels. Your staff should feel proud of what they do and understand how their job contributes to the organization in its entirety. Empowerment teaches them how to lead from where they are and assists in developing future organization leaders. It is important that we take interest in them as individuals and recognize their achievements and contributions.
What’s your leadership philosophy? Everybody has one - or at least should. In leading from where you are, start to develop your own. Give it a foundation that is rooted in the value system that has been built over the years. Roy E. Disney said, “When your values are clear to you, making decisions becomes easier.” I believe that. . . what do you believe?
Casandra Blassingame, MEd, is the Chief Executive Officer of the International Association of Continuing Education and Training (IACET). She is a recognized leader in adult and continuing education and has over 20 years of experience in higher education, continuing and professional studies, and workforce development. Prior to joining IACET as CEO, Casandra was the Vice President of Education Services for the American Gear Manufacturers Association where she led the organization’s effort in achieving and maintaining IACET accreditation. She has also served as an IACET commissioner, reviewing dozens of applications, and an IACET Board Member.