No doubt awareness and appreciation for training and learning exist within our organizations at a greater level than in years past. We have seen the expansion of existing programs while new ones continue to be developed. Of greater significance is the fact that more principals and leaders are availing themselves of such opportunities. That said, our willingness to participate in training and related education and to engage coaches, consultants, etc., lags significantly in comparison to the broader marketplace.
Perhaps some of our leaders are not aware of available services or their potential benefits. Some may worry that available providers lack the requisite insider knowledge and cultural awareness. Moreover, engagement in such supports may be viewed as signs of weakness – something we only consider pursuing when our world begins to cave in around us.
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Perhaps the most compelling reason for the absence of a more robust focus on leadership training and support is the lack of an appreciation of what we really want and should (as well as should not) want from our leaders and organizations.
Yes, we know we need to have them. They exist to help meet our religious, educational and social needs, among others. They deserve and receive our support because they serve as the backbone for everything that we seek to achieve individually and communally. But do we know what we should or should not be asking of them? Do we spend time and resources to think beyond the moment and envision how our institutions could look, whom else they could service, and how they could become even more successful?
Have we taken the time to develop comprehensive strategic plans equipped with priorities that challenge us to grow in concrete terms while also leaving go of the distractions that sap leaders’ energy and confuse their direction (and far too often serve to undermine them)?
And once we have done all that, have we put our monies where our mouths are and communicated in clear terms – in words, resources and actions – the support we are prepared to provide to ensure their actualization, including augmenting administrative levels to remove many of the low-end items from our leaders’ plates?
As stated above, our leaders are stretched as it is. We ask so much of them and are deeply indebted to them for all they do on our behalf. While we certainly want every leader to be as optimized as possible and should communicate our desire for continued professional enhancement, we cannot expect that to happen on its own, particularly with the many burdens and limitations our leaders presently face.
Communal organizations are ours to benefit from. They are our treasures and their leaders are the crown jewels. Let’s be sure to find ways to offer what we can to help them reach their true potential.