by Patrick Keenoy, Principal, 2015 National School of Character, Rogers Elementary

One is not simply a leader because of a title or position held, rather, a leader is one who demonstrates positive character through their words and actions. These words and actions, should  motivate others to give their best effort and be people of integrity. There is a definite link between leadership and gratitude.

The opportunities to demonstrate gratitude are endless, however, in the fast-paced world in which administrators work, it is often easy to get caught up in all the job entails thus forgetting to be grateful for what everyone does each day. A good leader needs to be intentional and sincere in demonstrating gratitude. Over time, I have come to the realization that as a leader it is critically important to focus on recognizing the work that everyone does to make a school function as a community. Demonstrating gratitude is easier said than done, yet, it is precisely at those difficult times in which it can be challenging to demonstrate gratitude where leadership is needed the most.

Leaders, and for the purposes of this post I am referring specifically to principals, demonstrate gratitude when they express a genuine and sincere appreciation for all members of the school community. Good leaders look upon every interaction as an opportunity to be thankful for all that particular individuals have given to the school. Here are a few examples.

A good leader will thank a teacher for taking the time to stay late at work helping with a project even though that teacher has a lot to do when they get home from work.

A good leader will recognize a student for giving his or her best effort in class even when the material is difficult to learn. 

A good leader demonstrates gratitude by being appreciative to the secretary who goes out of his or her way to make every person that comes into the building feel at home.

A good leader also demonstrates gratitude by thanking the parent who donates his or her time to assist with an activity at school.

In my evolution as a leader it is exactly in those challenging times that I look for the opportunity to be grateful. For instance, perhaps I need to have a difficult conversation with a teacher or parent; while this interaction may be a tense situation, it does afford me the opportunity to grow as a leader and learn new skills. I can be grateful for the difficult conversation because I can learn to see the matter from another person’s point of view. By doing that, I get to know the other person a little bit better and in the end the experience will help grow that relationship.

A good leader needs to constantly be aware that he or she is very fortunate to serve in the role of principal and that a true leader is a servant to their community. It is an honor and a privilege to get to work with the teachers, students, staff and parents each day and for that I am grateful.