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The Christmas Gift of Leadership

posted 7 Dec 2014, 09:54 by Paula Montie   [ updated 7 Dec 2014, 10:03 ]
£1.5 billion spent over the last weekend of November with Black Friday and Super Saturday fuelling the consumer binge! Interestingly, the same weekend sees the start of Advent. For me, another reminder of how the meaning of the Christmas Story is increasingly hard to find under the piles of often useless, sometimes unwanted piles of ‘stuff.’ Did I really want that new Dyson, hairdryer, TV? Does little Jonny, really need that Xbox, robo-puppy, Yoda Lego? You get my drift?

The main message of Christmas is indeed one of giving – but if we think beyond the consumer-fest, does that remind you of something? Yes, the ITL definition of leadership is, ‘Giving myself so others can be as good as they can be.’ So I got to thinking about the Christmas Story and what insights into leadership we might gain from it. Let’s start at the beginning:

The Power of a Compelling Vision
Mary and Joseph are prepared to risk humiliation, criticism and rejection because the message from the Angel Gabriel is truly inspirational. It’s clear, full of passion and focused on a higher purpose. They are invited to share in the mystery and made to feel an essential part of the plan.
What about your school vision, your values? Are they inspirational? Are they being lived out on a daily basis?

Beware the Controlling Leadership Style
King Herod provides a strong contrast to the leadership qualities Jesus shows. Remember the Jack Welch quotation – “leaders fail above all because they become obsessed with telling people what to do?” Well, Herod is a prime example of that! Although Herod was in many ways a successful leader, his rule was largely based on fear: his own fears and the fear he engendered in people he ruled.
Hopefully after doing your ITL course, this isn’t you! But sometimes, fear can influence our behaviour: fear of failure, change, and upsetting people, of OFSTED, fear of letting go…. and we can be tempted to use fear to motivate.

Persevere! Think out of the Box!
Joseph just had to find somewhere for Mary to rest – he had his goal in mind and kept going until he achieved it. Yes, he had to compromise, take risks, be flexible and innovative but it ended up as the perfect place.
What are you willing to do to achieve your personal or your school goals?

Every Leader needs a Great Team
The nativity scene wouldn’t be the same without the deep joy and act of collective rejoicing at Christ’s birth, from wise men and shepherds alike. An inspirational leader connects at an emotional level with the members of the team, building authentic, trusting relationships.
What have you done this year to connect with, develop and empower your team? What more can you do to build even higher levels of trust?

Personal Humility

This leadership quality, along with intense professional will, is described by Jim Collins as key to Level 5 leadership and is a major part of the ITL message. The root of the word means "lowly, humble," literally "on the ground," from humus "earth." The baby Jesus is not born into luxury, he is laid in a manger, close to the earth.
How have you demonstrated personal humility over the last year? What did you receive as a result?

Appreciation
Whether humble shepherds or the noble Magi, each brought their gifts in thanks for the birth of the Christ child. For us, the inspirational leader appreciates what each member of the team gives to the organisation.
How do you show your appreciation? Do all the staff in your school regularly show appreciation? Do you all know how to accept it?

So this Christmas, we will give and we will receive. And the most important of these is to give. Focusing on what we can give as leader will enable us to create a culture of growth, enabling each person to become the best they can be.

An inspirational leader understands that the most precious gift they have to offer is to give others the opportunity of development and growth. These are the leaders that make us want to go the extra mile, who make us want to be the best we can be.

“A leader is someone willing to give his strength to others that they may have the strength to stand on their own." Beth Revis

Wishing you a very happy Christmas and an inspirational New Year!
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