A Moment to Pause: Power of Self-Reflection for Leaders

Let’s take a moment to pause and think deeply about who you are as a leader and how you show up. Personal leadership is always in your control—and can drive success.
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A leader’s job is seemingly never done. We all have that same drive to grow and do better. It might be tempting to close out the school year and not look back on another unexpected and challenging year. But looking back, taking the time to self-reflect, is critical to moving forward. Especially when you zero in on personal leadership.

Personal Leadership is the one thing that is always within your control, even during a crisis or extended uncertainty. This kind of leadership encompasses your values, beliefs, and attitudes, how they influence your interactions with students, staff, and families, as well as how you approach your work, drive for equity, and bring your values to life. 

Research shows that your values contribute significantly to your success. To be clear, what you value is different from your personality. There is no single personality or leadership style that is most effective. You don’t have to be the boldest leader. Or the most charismatic. In fact, charisma alone will not move your school or your district to greatness. Your ability to align your values with your actions will.

New Leaders Transformational Leadership Framework (TLFTMoutlines five categories for personal leadership, defined below. After examining more than 100 of the highest-performing schools nationwide, we pinpointed how leaders contribute to student success, regardless of school size, location, or student demographics. The TLF is our evidence-based framework for driving sustained school improvement and student achievement. 

Using the TLF, we can explore this past year through the lens of personal leadership and all that it entails: equity-focused leadership, resilient leadership, and more. Let’s take a moment to pause and think deeply about who you are as a leader and how that is demonstrated. 

Belief-Based and Goal-Driven Leadership

Consistently demonstrating the belief that every student can achieve at high levels

How often do you…

  • Take personal responsibility for the school’s outcomes?
  • Demonstrate the belief that all students can achieve at high levels and reinforce? the belief that effort can improve a student’s outcomes?
  • Build a sense of urgency to achieve goals?

Equity-Focused Leadership

Continuously dismantling inequitable and exclusionary practices and creating a fully inclusive environment where all children and adults learn at high levels

How often do you…

  • Seek out and incorporate diverse perspectives to build an inclusive school culture?
  • Assess biases and assumptions when making decisions and work to identify blind spots?
  • Address dynamics of power within the community to foster a pervasive ethos of equity?

Interpersonal Leadership

Building trusting relationships and facilitating engaged communities of adults and students dedicated to reaching school goals

How often do you…

  • Publicly share clear expectations?
  • Honor all voices and actively involve others in decisions that further the vision of the school?
  • Build teams that effectively collaborate?

Adaptive Leadership

Mobilizing others to resolve challenges that require changes in values, beliefs, assumptions, and habits of behavior

How often do you…

  • Help and support staff to manage the emotions of change successfully while maintaining focus on the vision and school goals?
  • Identify root causes, especially those that require changes in beliefs, values, assumptions, and/or habits or behaviors?
  • Take appropriate risks that will benefit the school, students, and district?

Resilient Leadership

Demonstrating self-awareness, ongoing learning, and resiliency in the service of continuous improvement 

How often do you…

  • Regulate stress appropriately?
  • Reflect on performance and seek feedback?
  • Pursue opportunities to improve personal leadership?

Taking time to reflect not only increases your self-awareness, it accelerates your capacity to sustain what is working and improve what is not. And when you demonstrate self-reflection within your school community, you encourage students, staff, and families to do the same. 

Your personal leadership and what you value influence everything you do, big and small. Taking stock of your personal leadership is a great way to wrap up this school year and look to the next. No matter how uncertain the next school year may appear, personal leadership is always in your realm of control. You want to use it well. 

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