Academic journal article The Technology Teacher

Leadership Is Performance: Text from a Speech Delivered at the ITEA Nashville Conference Maley "Spirit of Excellence" Breakfast

Academic journal article The Technology Teacher

Leadership Is Performance: Text from a Speech Delivered at the ITEA Nashville Conference Maley "Spirit of Excellence" Breakfast

Article excerpt


Good morning ... it is a great honor for me to have been asked by the ITEA Foundation for Technology Education Board to address you this morning. It is my privilege to share with this group some of my thoughts on excellence in leadership.

In my life I have been influenced by many great leaders. Today, I am here to share some of my thoughts with you. I have no specialized field of interest or expertise in leadership, which may put me at a disadvantage talking to you today. However, I am going to share some of my life experiences, thus my framework for defining leadership.

Life Experiences

All of us are leaders in different capacities at different times in our lives. Many individuals have had a lasting impact on my life through their leadership by example. I am certain these individuals did not realize the influence they were having on my life. I believe our greatest leaders are constantly teaching by example and reflecting character in their performance.

In high school I had a mechanical drawing teacher who taught me the importance of paying attention to the details. He believed the details separate what is looked upon as excellence from the mediocre. In college I had a woodworking professor who taught me the importance of good planning and preparation for attaining optimum results. My metals professor helped me understand that just doing the exercise was not enough. He would say, "if you don't take the time to do it right, when will you have the time to do it over?" All of these are examples of small things that have made a difference in my life. My teachers were showing me leadership by example, and that if I paid "attention to the details" in my work, it would reflect a standard of excellence. Remember to "attack the details!"

Leaders have confidence in their abilities. They do not keep information a secret, which helps build trust. Effective leaders are willing to share their knowledge and decision-making responsibilities with the persons they lead. Leaders perform, they get things done, and they are doers. The leaders I admire most have no desire to be out in the front all of the time. They are schemers looking in terms of whom they can serve and how they can help. These leaders focus on what needs to be done and how they can empower people to get things done. Great leaders are never satisfied with current levels of performance. They are restlessly driven by possibilities and potential achievements.

For instance, in 1971 there was a young man named Doug Duell who made the varsity wrestling team at Goodland High School as a freshman. In preparation for the first match of the season, Doug was overwhelmed by the reputation of a wrestler from Hoxie HS named Steve Pope. Steve Pope defeated Doug at that match. I witnessed Doug making a conscious decision after that match not to listen to those around him who were willing to make excuses as to why he should or should not be able to win a particular wrestling match. Doug Duell never lost another wrestling match in high school. He went on to win four individual state titles and led his team to two state championships, as well as two second-place finishes. Doug's enthusiasm and passion for paying attention to the details was contagious. I witnessed many mediocre athletes excel beyond their expectations because of Doug's inspiration. Today I realize that Doug's example influenced my life. He helped me to realize what can be accomplished through patience, persistence, and most importantly a positive winning attitude. Leaders like Doug are positive and upbeat people. They are optimistic.

In college I had a wrestling coach named Barry Allen. He was first and foremost a football coach given the added responsibility of coaching the wrestling team. Coach Allen modeled for me how very important it is for people in leadership positions to be facilitators of opportunity. Coach Allen was not a master of the sport he was coaching, but he was very good with people. …

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