Leadership. The most valuable asset that we as educators and coaches can possess. Over the years, we work to build our skills and create a positive environment. Because we seek to be great leaders, there are six traits that we must constantly be aware of and grow.

1. Put People in Positive Positions

When assembling our team, ensemble, staff, or any other group, we must actively place people in positions where they can experience success. Not simply where they can be successful, but where they EXPERIENCE success. Nothing is worse that watching a student fail. Many times persons in leadership would say those that are failing are not putting in the effort. That may be true, but it also may be that we did not place them in a place where they can be successful. This is more important in team/ensemble activities than in individual events. As a result, greater success is possible when everyone is place in a position for success.

The Band Grad Staff for the Pride of Mississippi, 2010, at the Statue of Liberty.
The Band Grad Staff for the Pride of Mississippi, 2010, at the Statue of Liberty.

2. Invest in Relationships

This trait is the hardest for me due to the fact I seek moments of quiet and solitude in order to recharge. Often, I wait for someone to reach out to me instead of me contacting them. However, this is not healthy for my heart or mind because investing in relationships provides opportunity for reflection and accountability.

We cannot leave this trait to the few times a year we music educators gather at conferences. Picking up the phone, texting, and emailing are great ways to build stronger relationships with those we value and which we wish to learn. Do not wait for moments of struggle. Relationships are developed over time, through good and bad.

3. What gets measured, gets done

What are our priorities? What are the items on our list that can be measured? Music is subjective and, therefore, often hard to assess. Complicating matters are extra activities on our to-do list of less significance compared to others. Find ways to measure our results in all activities to assist us in establishing priorities, delegating what distracts us (for example, a website), and balancing our time.

4. Those in leadership must hustle and remain polite. 

Wow! How demanding is this? Those that hustle are often focused on themselves.  Driven to fulfill their goal, some may say they wear blinders or have tunnel-vision. Hustle is not an excuse to be rude or not aware of others. Those that give maximum effort and remain humble and polite are remembered.

Photo Credit Troy Bennefield
Photo Credit Troy Bennefield

5. Spend money on experiences not things

Question: Is having the newest iPhone a requirement for being a band director? Now, I am not saying materialism is good or bad. I enjoy my Apple products as well. However, at the end of the day, they may help me keep track of life but rarely help me live.

Experiences are opportunities for learning and growing. Attend a conducting symposium or a concert. Go to the zoo, museum, or National Park. Maybe sit in the bleachers at a baseball game. Travel to new places and try new things.

And, take pictures and load them onto social media, all from your iPhone.

6. Always be teachable.

Never stop being a student. There is always something to learn.

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