Those in the educational world or even the business world should find a mentor if your personal goal is to become an effective leader. If you aspire to move up the leadership ladder, or even gain a leadership position, a trusting mentor will be more valuable than any training available to you.
Looking back on my career, I wish I had had a mentor prepare me for the future. Unfortunately….I didn’t have a true mentor! I had support but not a mentor (there is a difference between support and a true mentor). A mentor to observes on the job and in turn observe you providing feedback (coaching) through job performance. Also the mentor and mentee sitting down and talking through events and situations to analyze the thought process how each should be handled correctly. Also the mentor sharing experiences and how he/she made small and even big/tough decisions.
I’ve always believed on-the-job training is better than reading a book or attending work shops (these have value though!). What better option than having a mentor coaching you before taking a leadership position then as you perform as a new leader once in that first position!
In the educational world, many districts (larger districts with more resources) have aspiring leader programs preparing future leaders. The first step is learning leadership skills in a workshop/classroom environment and shadowing a leader in the district. A journal with reflections should be kept throughout the process. I believe without reflection there is not true learning!! After going through this process, a mentor should be assigned to this person after they are appointed to their first leadership position…..which is usually the Assistant Principal position. Coaching the new A.P. (with the A.P.’s Principal as part of the TEAM) the first year or two or until performance indicates the A.P. has demonstrated the necessary skills effective leaders must possess.
I am obviously leaving out numerous details but wanted to share how important it is for aspiring leaders to have a mentor. A trusting confidant helping guide you through those first years setting up a path of success. In the business world, there are repercussions for leaders that fail. In the educational world, I believe the repercussions are much greater. The future of our country and world depend on our students getting a world class education prepared to take on the world. If competent leaders are not in place to support and guide teachers and students, learning suffers and the desired outcome is less than the students deserve. All students deserve the best and we are obligated to provide it!!