As I transition from a position I’ve held for almost a decade, it’s time to reflect on my leadership journey. This will inform my discernment of opportunities and help me continue to contribute to the common good through my education and leadership.
I first detected my capacity to lead in high school when I was a student leader and also provided leadership as a junior Girl Guide leader for children. In university I lead a student group and organized debates and panel presentations. When I began teaching with a school that was just beginning, I provided leadership to the Humanities department and also established a Learning Assistance department, leading and collaborating with my colleagues, often ‘senior’ to me. I exemplified self-leadership when I uprooted and moved to Bolivia for two years where I taught, served in an orphanage, and established an English Language Institute for adults. Returning to Canada, I taught, was an education consultant for eight high schools, and then became a school principal. During this time, I also began to engage in leadership roles in my church community. Moving into higher education after further studies, I became a Director and Associate Dean where I led a department, coached faculty, and mentored graduate students. As an independent consultant, I teach, coach, provide professional development, facilitate strategic planning, conduct research, publish and serve on several committees and non-profit boards.
Through these successive leadership experiences, I have developed capacities to understand and lead diverse peoples, implement effective organizational practices and see the bigger picture of how the group or organization fits in the larger mission. Over the years my experience in various organizations has increased my understanding and appreciation of clearly communicated governance policies and procedures. I realize the importance of generative listening and proposing rather than imposing mandates in a way that is adapted to the context. This might mean moving slower than I would like as I seek to involve others and respond to the culture. I have developed my ‘voice’ over the years and developed the ability to share what I’ve learned as I teach, coach and mentor others. I have developed and refined program development, research and knowledge dissemination skills.
Three things stand out in terms of my leadership roles, whether paid or volunteer:
- strategic vision for the common good
- mission-driven education and leadership
- ability to effectively collaborate with others toward this vision.
I’ve enjoyed a varied and meaningful career and continue to seek opportunities to realize the above aims. In these common features of my leadership roles, I recognize important criteria that will be useful in discerning opportunities that come my way.