Thursday, August 29, 2013

Model Behavior

By RICHARD OUTRAM from Wales (Serene Snowdon  Uploaded by PDTillman) [CC-BY-2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

As a new school year begins, I have been reflecting back on many of the valuable leadership lessons I have learned over the years as a classroom teacher, administrator and athletic coach. I have been fortunate to work under and alongside some very good leaders who have all helped to shape my own leadership development. Although each of these individuals are very different in their leadership styles and personalities, the one constant among all of them is that they led by example through continuous modeling of the behaviors and character traits they expected in those under their leadership.

Whether it is in our workplace or home, all of us serve a leadership role in some fashion or another. Even if it is just one person who looks to you as a leader, mentor or role model, you are a leader nonetheless. With that being said, it is critical that we carefully consider the example we are modeling for those who look to us for leadership and guidance. If there is one thing I have learned through my experiences over the years, it is that both adults and children almost always follow the example set by the individuals that serve leadership roles in their life (i.e. parents, guardians, mentors, work place supervisors, etc...).

Thinking back on my own experiences, I must confess that I have fallen short in this area more than I care to admit; however, these failures have served as powerful learning experiences to help strengthen my leadership ability. In examining my own effectiveness as a leader, the first question I often ask myself is "What are you modeling?" This is a question we must all confront on a regular basis. If the individuals under our leadership are consistently not demonstrating the behaviors, habits or character traits we expect, we must consider the example we are modeling as a leader. More simply, if we do not like what we see, the first place to look is in mirror.

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Mark of a Professional

By Sofiaperesoa (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons
As I discussed in my previous post, we all make time for the things in life that are important to us. Taking this one step further, I now want to discuss the importance of making time for on-going and regular professional development. Although the bulk of my professional experience has been in the field of education, I have been fortunate to work with successful individuals in a variety of fields. If there is one constant I have found over the years, it is that people who are excellent at what they do typically devote regular time to their own professional development.

This can come in the form of reading professional literature, attending conferences/seminars, participating in webinars and networking with other individuals in your field of work. Regardless of the type of activity or area of work, successful individuals simply make time for growing as a professional.

The best example of this that I can think of, from my own experiences, involves my mom and dad who are both chiropractors and ran a successful practice together for over thirty years. Despite the demands of running a business and raising three active children, my parents always made time for their own professional growth. I remember my parents reading journals at night, listening to audio courses on cassette tape in the car and regularly attending conferences and seminars. Collectively, this had a lasting impact on me as I do many of the same things myself (minus the audio cassette tapes).

With the ever increasing popularity of social media, high-quality and individualized professional development  is now accessible 24/7 around the globe from any device with an Internet connection. The best part of all is that social media is totally free to use. Whether it is connecting with other professionals through services such as Twitter and LinkedIn, or following blogs of reputable individuals in your field of work, there are a wealth of outstanding professional development options available for anyone to take advantage of. There are no longer any barriers to obtaining high-quality professional development other than simply making the time to do it.

Speaking from my own personal experience, I can honestly say that the connections I have made through Twitter and the following of professional blogs have been my most valuable sources of professional development. The ability to regularly connect with hundreds of successful individuals from around the world in your particular field is simply not possible without the use of social media. With ever increasing demands on our time and limited budgets, we cannot afford to not take advantage of the benefits that social media offers for professional growth. While I certainly believe that the more traditional forms of professional development are still highly valuable and should be utilized, connecting with other professionals through social media is a practice that cannot be ignored if we truly want to maximize our own development as professionals in our field.

Ultimately, this all comes back to the issue of what is important to us and how we prioritize our time. It is undeniable that successful individuals make time for learning and honing their craft. This time devoted to professional development is a distinguishing mark of a true professional. With that being said, I encourage you get connected and take advantage of the benefits that social media offers for your own professional growth. A relatively small investment of your time and effort is well worth the long-term payoff.