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What is Your Leadership Theme?

By LeeAnn Taylor posted 10-29-2019 11:22


As school business officials, we are surrounded with opportunities to lead on a daily basis. Fortunately, we are also surrounded by workshops, conferences, books and blogs that focus on helping us lead. However, finding something that sticks, something that seems relevant and realistic to your personal leadership style, is key. About three years ago, a colleague recommended I read Brené Brown’s book Rising Strong. At the time the text did not resonate with me.

I was fortunate enough to be re-exposed to Brené Brown during my enrollment in a graduate course at Northern Illinois University and this time, Dare to Lead was the text. I had the complete opposite experience! At first, I borrowed Dare to Lead from a co-worker, but quickly realized I would want my own working copy. Dare to Lead guided me to understand who I am as a leader, what I value and what I will not tolerate. I could not get enough of the supplemental materials and I found myself searching her website and downloading all of the Dare to Lead materials I could find. While I was engaging with Brown’s work, an NIU professor charged me with finding my leadership theme. Suddenly it all started coming together. Brown’s straightforward, no-nonsense demeanor would help me connect with my own leadership. Her book and the provided exercises would guide me towards a leadership theme I could be proud of, stand by and share with others.

I started by identifying my values. Over the years, I have heard countless times that personal and professional values must be the same. Never before had I allowed myself to sit down and decipher why these goals must overlap. Brown’s work provided an opportunity to identify my values and determine a way for my daily operations to be reflective of these said values.

“I considered another key reminder from Brené Brown, “one of the most basic human desires is to be understood.

Brown believes this desire for understanding requires a great deal of empathy on the part of others. She provides four key steps to showing empathy:

1. Perspective taking or putting yourself in someone else’s shoes.
2. Staying out of judgement and listening.
3. Recognizing emotion in another person that you have maybe felt before.
4. Communicating that you can recognize that emotion.

You may read this blog and decide to locate a copy of Dare to Lead and start on the journey of defining your leadership theme. However, consider my experience with Rising Strong and be cognizant of the fact that your leadership theme may be shaped elsewhere. Regardless of what shapes your leadership theme, it is necessary to have a deep connection with the author(s), text(s) or workshop(s) that serve as a guide. This deep connection will lay the groundwork for continuous learning and improvement.

By LeeAnn Taylor
Dir./Fiscal Services, CSBO
Barrington CUSD 220
1 comment



10-30-2019 15:02

This book is now on my radar to get, both of them really.  Understanding our own styles is critical in helping other relate to us.  I've participated in the LIFO programming and knowing myself, and in this situation, our values, we can offer others the path to help us understand.   I find that sometimes we need to change to communicate with others, which is great, but I'm thinking how great it is to say to someone else "I'm a detail oriented person, can you provide any supporting info if you need my decision".  Why make someone else struggle, give them the keys.

Thanks, Marcus