Three Pillars of Leadership: Service, Balance, and Relationships
Carmel High School Principal
During my fourteen years as Carmel High School principal, I have learned many valuable lessons about leadership. I have learned that successful and healthy leadership is based on three pillars: Service, Balance, and Relationships.
Martin Luther King, Jr. said, “Everyone can be a great leader because everyone can serve.” I have discovered that I lead best when I help others go where they have decided to go. When I play the role of a facilitator to the goals and dreams of those around me; and focus on the wants and needs of my students, staff, and parents we both benefit.
In order for me to be an effective leader, I have had to find the balance between what I do and who I am. It is too easy to confuse our jobs with our identity. Author James Patterson suggests imagining life as a game in which we are juggling five balls. The balls are labeled work, family, health, friends, and integrity. The trick is trying to keep all the balls in the air. You must come to understand that the work ball is a rubber ball. If you drop it, it will bounce back. The other four balls - family, health, friends, and integrity - are made of glass. If you drop one of these it could shatter.
This analogy has served me well through the years. No matter how important the work I do is, it is important to remember that it is my job not my life. It is important not to blur the two lines. I work hard to separate John Williams from Principal Williams so I can be the best man my family and friends deserve and the best educator my students and staff have come to expect.
All of our dealings with each other come down to relationships. I believe it is not what you go through; it is whom you go through it with that is important. To effectively lead, you must develop meaningful relationships with those that you serve. All relationships are built upon two bedrocks - trust and respect, both of which are earned, not given. You must be intentional about what you do to maintain the hard won feelings of your staff.
Being a leader is not complicated. It is also not easy. If you want to do it right and be an effective and healthy leader you must understand the roles of service, balance, and relationships. And if you’re lucky enough, one day you, like me, will be able to retire from a well-balanced career to a life well led.