Middle & High School Principal's Blog

Enhancing Our Collective Leadership

Posted on July 31, 2022

by Dr. Dwayne Priester on July 31, 2022

"Leadership is not about being in charge.

Leadership is about taking care of those in your charge." - Simon Sinek

As a principal, I have frequently shared with teachers and school leaders that our actions are often a direct result of our training and experiences. Those experiences help form our thinking and influence our actions, ultimately impacting how we interact with those around us.

As an aspiring principal beginning in the early 1990s, I remember being trained to approach leadership from a traditional "take charge" mindset. In this leadership role, I was expected to have an intimate knowledge of every facet of the school and to be the sole decision-maker. Although this model requires one to assume the principalship with assistant principals in a supporting role, the complexities of this structure make it impossible for a principal to be aware of all details within a school. What I recognized in a short period of time, was the immeasurable value of shared responsibility and shared decision-making among our leadership teams. It was pivotal in the success of heightened morale among faculty and staff, the strength of our professional relationships, and cultivating respect. These impacts directly benefited the students we served as they also thrived.

Through my lived experiences and in my desire to grow as a genuinely caring leader, my understanding of what leadership is has further evolved. What leadership is to me is service with community - our students, teachers, administrators, and support staff. Rather than assuming a being-in-charge role, I embrace the way of servant leadership, which enhances and promotes collective leadership. Servant leadership actively listens to and empowers all voices to be expressed and maintains the professional and personal growth and well-being of the community as a priority. These are essential in establishing trust in relationships and fostering empowerment as a servant leader. Robert K. Greenleaf, the late AT&T Executive, introduced the term "servant leadership" in his essay titled, The Servant as Leader, in 1970. Persuaded that "the great leader is seen as servant first," he asserted that this is the key to true greatness.

During the week of July 25, 2020, our middle and high school leadership returned to campus for several days of intensive leadership training. Rather than focusing on programmatic policies and procedures, our personal and professional growth as "school leaders," enhancing our collective leadership, and engaging in shared decision-making were our priorities. As a servant leader, I am committed to creating inclusion-honoring environments so that we are able to thrive as a forward-thinking community while caring for those in our charge.