Leadership Gratitude

I am currently a Regional Director for an education technology company but in a previous life I was an early childhood teacher. I taught in both special education and general education classrooms from preschool to third grade. I loved guiding my students and supporting their various needs. I challenged them often while giving them the tools and support they needed to achieve success. I worked to create a positive learning environment where they felt safe and welcome. I modeled a love for learning. I was honest with my students and showed them that we all have shortcomings. No one is “perfect,” we are all a work in progress. I supported my students with their academic growth but was also there when they had personal challenges. I cared deeply for my students and wanted them to know that I was there for them and believed they could accomplish more than even they could imagine.

Fast forward a few years to my current position. I loved teaching but I have found a new career to love! I love my role, my company, and the educators and administrators I am fortunate to work with daily. I have found my dream job and I am very grateful. This year I am focusing on mindfulness and expressing my gratitude regularly.

There are many reasons why I am grateful for my current position but the one I want to focus on today is my Manager. I have had a number of Supervisors/Managers/Bosses/etc. over my professional life. All have helped me become the professional I am today and for that I am grateful. Along the way, however, I have learned what I value and find supportive in a leader the most.

I lead the students in my classrooms through positive reinforcement, achievable yet challenging goals, transparency into my own areas of weakness, and full support for both academic and personal needs. While in a very different environment and position, my Manager leads in the same way. I like to live my life focusing on the positive, so I am not going to complain about the ways not to lead or manage. Trust me, I have had some supervisors I was unsatisfied with but maybe they were on their path of becoming better leaders themselves. I hope that they also value learning and grow in their leadership/mentor-ship skills!

I am grateful for a number of things my Manager does and the ways he shows support. When I was first hired I felt welcomed and valued. It was clear that I was much less experienced than others in my same position but he did not let me feel inferior, he believed I could achieve almost more than I did myself. As I was learning the ropes he supported me but was not always looking closely over my shoulder, he let me learn on my own. I too had to set my students free to learn independently. They would stumble at times but through these lows they would learn how to pick themselves back up and become stronger. Just as he is, I was there to guide them and support them if they needed some tips and strategies to be their best.

After I got a bit more comfortable in my role, he continued to guide and support me. He holds me accountable, monitoring my weekly, monthly, and yearly metrics. He evaluates my professional growth, however, on much more than just the numbers on a dashboard. I did this as well with my students, they were given test scores and grades but their growth was much more comprehensive than a number or letter. He helps me analyze my strengths and areas I can improve. He provides helpful suggestions and we work collaboratively to continuously refine my goals for improvement. When hurdles came up, as they always will, he is there to not negatively critique me but to work with me on finding a solution. He provides constructive criticism that is valuable for my growth, rather than making me feel like a failure or less than.

I tried to model appropriate behavior and work ethic for my students, my Manager does this for his team as well. He is always learning new things about our industry, and how to communicate and work with us best. He acknowledges that he is a work in progress and models a growth mindset. He is there whenever we need him. I know I can go to him for support on any project or to address any internal or external concerns. He also is a great model of work/life balance. His family is his top priority. I value his ability to keep work at work and to focus on his boys over the weekends and vacations. He demonstrates his understanding that the most important things in our lives often fall outside of the workplace.

I supported the “whole child” as a teacher. This included their academic/social/emotional/physical/communication, their overall development. I provided a safe, engaging, and challenging environment to help them learn at the best of their ability. My Manager supports us comprehensively and is also there when he knows there are things outside of our professional life that are trying. He has helped us celebrate happy times such as Birthdays and personal celebrations and he has shown understanding and care during hard times.

I am very grateful that I have the support and guidance of my current Manager, I hope to lead a team as well one day!