One of the most powerful things you can do to build leadership skills is to model what it means to be a strong leader. To develop leadership skills among your team, you have to develop leadership skills within yourself.
Your staff will count on you for guidance and support during challenging times. They may mimic the language you use when talking with families and children. They might look to you for an example of how to respond to different situations – to see what is acceptable and what is not.
Additionally, you will need to create opportunities for employees to practice leadership skills. Here are a few ideas of how you can build leadership opportunities into your program:
- Identify and work with people’s strengths. Capitalize on the talents and strengths of your team members. Match leadership opportunities to the interests and skills of individuals on the team.
- Find ways to delegate tasks to team members. Identify tasks that you can pass along to others to manage. Provide clear expectations but allow room for creativity and individual expression. The outcome may not resemble how you would have done it, but your employees will feel trusted and empowered. If something needs to be fixed due to policies or regulations, you will need to provide feedback on that, but the reward will be worth it.
- Create leadership positions that people can step into. The program may already have an assistant director position, but there may be an opportunity to elevate openers and closers to leadership positions based on the extra responsibilities they have. You could create positions for an infant and toddler coordinator, curriculum specialist, school-age lead, etc. Identify individuals who are interested in being coaches or mentors. These folks will take an active role in new hire orientation and supporting their coworkers who are building skills in various areas.
- Ask employees to facilitate discussions at staff meetings. Someone could review the minutes from the last meeting or provide updates on important initiatives. Employees could share information about an article they read. They could talk about what they learned at a recent training they attended. Perhaps a staff member could lead a brainstorming session about summer camp planning.
- Involve teachers in your family engagement efforts. Have a teacher representative present at family committee meetings.
- Create subcommittees to plan projects, professional development days, and other events. You don’t have to do it all yourself.
- Empower employees by asking for solutions rather than fixing the situations. It may be easy for you to identify a solution and solve the problem for your employees. However, doing so robs them of the opportunity to put their skills to use to collaborate with others, compromise, and make decisions for themselves. As employees open-ended questions about the situation. Guide them to think of solutions and choose the one that they are most comfortable with. These are important skills to practice and as these skills develop, you will see fewer cases of employees coming to you to solve their problems for them.
- Share leadership opportunities in the community. Invite team members to participate in local child care committees or organizations. NAEYC has many local affiliates that provide leadership opportunities. Share advocacy initiatives, such as visiting lawmakers or organizing events that promote the field of ECE.
Above all, it will be important to create a culture in which it is safe to take risks and make mistakes. It is much easier to step up if you know that you will be supported if you fall.
For the main article Exploring Leadership, CLICK HERE
For the article Important Leadership Skills, CLICK HERE
For the article Leadership Styles, CLICK HERE
For the article Building Children’s Leadership Skills, CLICK HERE