It’s all About the ‘Authentic Leader’

Leslie FenwickEducators gathered on the campus of Howard University in Washington, D.C. for the conclusion of the Urban Superintendents Inaugural Conference. Future urban school superintendents had the opportunity to hear about what it takes to be an authentic leader—from the lens of a distinguished leader herself.

Leslie Fenwick, dean of Howard University’s School of Education, and professor of education policy delivered the conference’s concluding remarks. A former urban school teacher, administrator and legislative aid to the State of Ohio Senate, Fenwick asked the group to reflect on the following questions:

  • What is the definition of leadership?
  • What is the worst thing a leader can do?
  • What’s the difference between leadership and management?
  • What is the nature of authentic leadership?

 “You lead from who you are,” she said. “Be careful of who you are. Leadership is stressful. Be conscious and self-reflective about your values and character.”

 The Academy will offer prospective and in-service superintendents a revolutionary new approach to ensuring success in urban settings and provide professional development, clinical field experiences and a range of resources to support these educators.

“A manager maintains, a leader develops,” Fenwick said. “Being that you are in public education, you will be constantly challenged to achieve greater academic heights for students.”

When it comes to the worst thing? Fenwick told the group “micro management is the cardinal sin of leadership. Micro managers create viciously toxic environments for people to work.”

Fenwick summed up her remarks by sharing authentic leadership produces results and prosperity for all, not just the leader. She added, “to the contrary, the driven leader is about recognition and acclaim that helps the leader only.”

“The best leaders can see what does not yet exist. As you travel and shape the peaks and values, be expansive and informed. Derive joy and fun from your work. The day that you don’t derive joy and fun, decide to step down. I look forward to calling you superintendent.”

 

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