On Building a Leader


“We’re all attracted to, as well as turned off by, various things about other people. And the things that stand out the most to us are the things that remind us most of ourselves. This is because other people are like mirrors for us: if somebody bugs you you’re projecting onto them something that you don’t like about yourself, and if you think they’re awesome, they’re reflecting back something you see in yourself that you like.”

– Jen Sincero author of You are a Badass

Leadership development is one of those things that everyone says they really want to do and “want to get good at” but few (in my experience) have actually managed to do effectively. This goes for classroom teachers building student leadership capacity, principals building teacher capacity, and even district leaders building capacity in their districts. I believe that the reason for this is because like Sincero says above, we often look for ourselves in other people. This is especially true in developing leaders. It may be unconscious but we gravitate towards like minded people and don’t always do the deep dive needed to really foster their development. Instead, we sometimes hand solutions and opportunity to those we feel will do what we would have in a given situation. In that way we don’t develop leaders so much as we continue a cycle of likeminded people in the same positions. The purpose of this blog is to help you to break that up.

One of THE MOST POWERFUL LEADERSHIP DEVELOPMENT TOOLS I have been exposed to this year came by way of a good colleague. It is a book titled The Coaching Habit: Say Less, Ask More, and Change the way You Lead Forever.¬†The book’s author Michael Bungay Stanier breaks every growth oriented conversation you will ever have into seven key questions. These questions, when asked, put the learning on the other person and causes them to exit the conversation with new ideas for growth. I have been using them all year and they work every time¬†to create reflective solutions oriented educators.

Stanier’s questions are linked here. I have also attached a video explaining them below.

Remember to lead is to constantly learn, and while others may not tell you the truth I always will. Leaders don’t all have to look and sound like you. The best ones identify and solve their own problems. It is your job to teach every one under you to do just that and keep an eye out for the ones who move from needing you to facilitate that process to finding solutions on their own. Those may just be your next leaders. – Dr. Kia