Leadership and learning are indispensable to each other.” These words, spoken by the thirty-fifth President of the United States, John F. Kennedy, still ring true today. As leaders of K-12 technology in the state of California, we are counted upon to provide meaningful and effective leadership to those who look to us for guidance and direction. President Kennedy’s words reminded us of the inseparable relationship between leadership and learning. In this column, I’d like to touch on the topic of how each of us can learn to become more effective leaders within our own organizations.


Of all the various groups that rely on us to provide leadership, no one group looks to you more than your own Information Technology staff. Keep in mind that even in the busiest of times you must be able to focus on the “big picture” and effectively communicate to your staff the reasons for the work that they are doing. If you can slow down and take the time to explain to all your staff the purpose of the current project they are working on and it’s place in the purpose of educating students (which by the way IS our job, lest we forget), you’ve successfully accomplished two things: 1) you’ve conveyed to them the purpose and importance of getting the work completed, and; 2) you’ve given your staff a reason to trust and respect your judgment in prioritizing and assigning projects. As British Army Field Marshal Bernard Law Montgomery once said, “Leadership is the capacity and will to rally men and women to a common purpose and the character which inspires confidence.”


We all have demanding days and sometimes it becomes extremely difficult to find the time to sit down and discuss with staff the importance of their work. If needed, try using e-mail to compose messages that can be sent to groups of staff working on common projects. Encourage questions from staff. Make sure that your employees understand the importance of their efforts in the scope of the larger picture. It is our responsibility as IT leaders to see and understand “the big picture” and to convey to technology staff members a sense of how their individual efforts contribute to accomplishing collective goals.


I encourage you to make the extra effort to communicate to your staff on a regular basis. Take a moment to evaluate yourself now. Are you really explaining to them WHY they are doing the work they do and what the purpose and benefit of it is? If so, I congratulate you. If not, now is a good time to start.


And finally, keep in mind the following words of another great man, President Dwight D. Eisenhower: “You don’t lead by hitting people over the head—that’s assault, not leadership.”


Have a great time in your job and remember, your staff really needs an effective communicator and leader, YOU.

Best Regards,