Monday, 25 April 2011

First Principalship

As a leader, how 'authentic' are you?

The staff's reaction to me and to my way of leading was largely negative, and my newness contributed to my own uncertainty.  I began to believe I would need traits other than the ones I had, in addition to all the competencies I needed to master as a principal.  To veil my uncertainty, I thought I needed to present myself as having an assurance that I frankly didn't yet have.  I thought I needed to act "as if" until I got there.  I sought to become a principal they would respect and value, yet I wasn't sure how to do this.  I mistakenly had confused being nonauthoritarian with being authentic, but authenticity does not mean abdicating authority.  In addition, being authentic was even more of a challenge when so many people had their own, different expectations about what I should do and be.

I knew who I was as a person, but I needed to learn what it meant to be authentic as a principal.  It would not work to define my leadership by the traits other people had used to define their leadership.  I would be an authentic leader only if I used the attributes I already had to become the principal I aspired to be.  With the help of mentors and other allies, I found the support I needed to once again feel and display the self-confidence I had had before becoming a principal.  I was moving closer to true authenticity as a leader, which required claiming the authority of my own experience, claiming my own thoughts and feelings, and sharing them.

From:  Are you Sure you're the Principal by Susan Villani
Published by: Corwin Press


  1. To be authentic you have to be yourself. As a leader, you have to reflect who you are in your decisions and daily interactions. Only when we give ourselves to others can we demonstrate our strength in leadership. This transparency and consistency of person and decisions will naturally carry authority that is genuine and true to self.

    As I reflect back on the courageous conversation entries from a few days ago, I can see how difficult it is to always be an authentic leader when faced with daily challenges that are personal, judgmental and relationship based. Our words and actions carry so much weight and we need to be careful what we say and how we say it while still keeping our authenticity in check.

  2. I agree wholeheartedly with you Pam. We should strive to be as transparent as possible when making decisions. People will not always agree with our decisions, but they should know why they were made.

    Your comment especially rang true when you said "Our words and actions carry so much weight and we need to be careful what we say and how we say it while still keeping our authenticity in check."

  3. Our actions and words exhibit who we are, and we all have a variety of leadership experiences that have brought us to this stage. Being transparent and authentic will show our character even when some will disagree with a decision. I also think if we do not know an answer ( which there will be several) acknowledge this and find out. I agree with Pam and Craig be authentic when demonstrating leadership. There will/have been times when self confidence will be questioned, but these experiences allow growth.

  4. I believe the line about using "the attributes I already have to be the Principal I aspired to be" is key.We can only be an authentic leader if we are true to our own traits and personality - not trying to imitate another. This is an affirming and inspiring message.

  5. I think that being a principal can be a lonely venture at times and requires perseverance in order to maintain your beliefs and core values in a new culture. This is even more valid when the culture that you are entering is not congruent with your beliefs. I think an important point that was made is that it is important for a leader to have a a support system in place to help you maintain your core values in difficult times.