Leaders Have the Ability to See Those Around Them Rise - Steve Barkley

Leaders Have the Ability to See Those Around Them Rise






Simon Sinek shared the statement, “Leaders have the ability to see those around them rise” in this short video clip. It struck me as a great reflection opportunity for school leaders, instructional coaches, and teachers. Sinek identifies his own important learning about leadership with two key statements:

  • Remind myself –“I don’t need to know everything and don’t need to pretend that I do.”
  • Tell others – “ I don’t know, and I need help.”


Reflecting on and embracing these statements can help a leader:

Foster a Culture of Openness:

By openly acknowledging that you don’t know everything and seeking help, leaders provide an important model for their team. Team members feel comfortable admitting their own limitations and seeking assistance.

This is why I encourage instructional coaches and administrators to be among the most coached people in a building. Coaches and administrators coaching each other publicly is a powerful practice to implement. Teachers being lead learners, publicly learning as students observe, creates a similar important model. Can students observe their teachers to find out how to learn as well as observe the ‘joy of learning’?

Build Trust: Admitting when you don’t know something builds trust within your team. It demonstrates humility and honesty, which fosters strong relationships and trust between leaders and team members.

Encourage Collaborative Problem-Solving:

By acknowledging their own limitations, leaders are more likely to encourage collaboration and collective problem-solving. When leaders are open to input and assistance from others, it promotes a collaborative approach to addressing challenges and finding solutions.

In my coaching role I often take the approach of being a thinking partner with the coachee. While the coachee is considering what the possibilities are for gaining their desired outcomes, I may put an idea into the conversation for exploration. If the coachee decides to try the strategy, she/he does so with owning the plan as theirs rather than the coach’s solution to a problem.  Teachers can take the same exploration approach with students. A role that is more about supporting “learning” than “teaching” solutions.

Promote a Learning Culture:

Embracing the idea that you don’t need to know everything emphasizes the importance of continuous learning. This mindset encourages both leaders and team members to seek new knowledge, stay curious, and adapt to changing circumstances, fostering a culture of continuous improvement. When learners become teachers, sharing their new knowledge, understanding, or skills, they feel empowered and often motivated to continue learning.

“In many medical education settings, students taught by peer teachers learn at least as well as students taught by faculty. Although peer teachers are perceived as not being as knowledgeable as faculty, the cognitive and social congruencies they share with their learners support learning.” (When Learners Become Teachers: A Review of Peer Teaching in Medical Student Education)

Elementary principal, Haley Beavert, shared in a podcast a program she implemented trading required mandatory faculty meetings for optional learning opportunities. She identifies the strategy as an example of de-implementation. The program, called “Feed Your Brain,” has teachers organizing learning opportunities for professional development.

Reduce Pressure on Yourself:

Leaders who feel the need to know everything may put undue pressure on themselves. Accepting that it’s okay not to have all the answers allows you to focus on leveraging the collective knowledge and expertise of your team or students, ultimately reducing personal stress.

Educator and author, Ann Lautrette, described teachers building co-constructed classrooms in a podcast with me.

“A space where decisions about learning, planning, doing, and assessing are made in a shared way between the teacher and the student.  It’s a classroom that’s characterized by open discussions, negotiation, and two- way feedback, not just from teacher to student, but also from students to teachers. The teacher of a co-constructed classroom is passionate about student voice and choice within the planning of the learning, the doing of the learning and the assessing of the learning. These teachers see themselves as facilitators of learning rather than the source of knowledge.”

Lautrette expands co-construction beyond the classroom. “Teachers need to work together, teachers and students need to work together, leaders, teachers and students all need to work together with parents and everybody else in our community.”

Consider your opportunities to empower others with your leadership. What purposeful actions do you take?


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