Leading from the heart can be better navigated with four questions that highlight trust and empathy, understanding and compassion. Each of these questions should be viewed from the perspective of our staff and how we reflect on how they respond can strengthen personal reflection:
Can I help you?
How can I care for you?
Can you trust me?
How can you help me?
How can I care for you? This is the where the rubber meets the road for school leaders. Caring for others is a quality that can’t be taught and is at the heart of leadership. Leaders need to be compassionate, sympathetic, and empathetic. Staff, students, and parents need to know that we care. The leader has to take interest in the work, the people, the mission, and the organization, or move on to another position where the outward sense of compassion can be tempered in a different role.
Even in a large district, leaders can show they care for their staff. Vista Unified Superintendent Devin Vodicka adds that special touch by trying to learn the names of all 2400 employees, getting to know his administrators holistically, encouraging vacation time, and adding wellness initiatives that help balance the lives of staff members. He adds, “caring and compassion must be genuine and I strive for all those I interact with to feel that sense of authenticity I sincerely feel.”