Tag Archives: leadership

Calling all leaders, directors and administrators…

Like many of you, I was a director for almost 27 years and I cannot imagine a topic that I am more passionate about than leadership for early childhood directors. Some of the things that I have learned about leadership came from working with excellent role models, trainers, mentors and supervisors who set very high standards.

The 11th Annual 4C Leadership Conference is drawing near and we are inviting you to participate in a two-day event at the Oasis Conference Center in Loveland, Ohio. The conference promises to be inspiring, motivational and full of sessions that will challenge you to aspire to new levels.

Grow and expand your knowledge at the 4C Leadership Conference

On pre-conference day, October 10, John French from Lakeshore and 4C’s Kim Ginn will host a “Lunch and Learn” where attendees will have the opportunity to see how Lakeshore products align with Ohio’s updated Early Learning and Development Standards. You won’t want to miss the giveaways! The afternoon session will be spent with Cea Cohen Elliott. In her presentation “Balancing Life’s Challenges and Opportunities,” she will talk about taking time to care for ourselves and keeping our life in balance while still maintaining our sense of humor.

On conference day, October 11, our keynote speaker, Michael Hingson, will deliver his address: “Out of the Ashes: Learning to Survive in a Changing World.” Through the compelling account of his harrowing journey out of the World Trade Center to safety on 9/11, Michael demonstrates how to face and embrace life-changing events in a constructive way. Michael’s story will challenge you to access and strengthen your skills, trust, teamwork, risk-taking and creativity to ease your way through changes in your work and personal life. Michael will also have his bestselling book, Thunder Dog: The True Story of a Blind Man, His Guide Dog & the Triumph of Trust, on sale at the conference.

Good leaders are made, not born. Good leaders develop through a never ending process of self-study, education, training and experience. So register now for the 4C Leadership Conference.

One at a Time

I have always suffered from the kind of allergies that warrant allergy shots, and left me dreading a bi-weekly trip to the allergy doctor. As I aged, I outgrew the allergies, and also the shots (yay!). Last fall I was retested and found a whole new set of allergies and sensitivities to certain foods. Recently, when I wasn’t feeling well, I scheduled a doctor’s appointment for a good once over. She found my blood pressure to be higher than normal and asked how I was doing in managing the new allergies. Not so well. After a good discussion about what I should cut out of my diet, a course of vitamins, and a few other recommendations, I was given my marching orders. No wheat, gluten, peas, blueberries or soda pop. She wanted to see me back in three weeks. See you later pasta and bread!

I took this challenge one day at a time. I planned meals and grocery shopped. I took the recommended vitamins. I bypassed the coke machine in favor of water. I walked and did strength training several times a week. I felt better. I lost ten pounds. I feel good about the results, but even better because I think I can stick with it by taking it one day at a time.

This concept is also the focus for the Sixth Annual 4C Northern Kentucky Leadership Conference which will be held on May 4. Big things can become small things if taken one step at a time. What project or task have you been avoiding because it just seems “too big”?

Is Leadership Advocacy?

As I sipped my coffee watching the Early Childhood Directors filter into the Sharonville Convention Center this past Friday, I marveled at the commitment of this group of professionals.  It was an unseasonably warm, sunny day and they were making the choice to attend 8 hours of training.  Yes, there was yummy food inside, and potentially a day where they did not have to solve an emergency at their center, but they still had to say “no” to the beautiful day.

I observed a few seasoned directors confidently move around the room and compared them to the more timid, “newbie” directors.  I wondered at what point in their professional career they found this confidence.  It caused me to reflect on my tenure as a director and realized that the day I spoke up on behalf of the children in my care, I became more confident in myself as a “leader.”

On that day, I had to convince some well intentioned volunteers that painting the lobby and hallways during arrival time was endangering the children. They laughed and replied something like, “At my house, my grandkids would know not to get in the way of my paint brush.  I am sure it will be fine… you worry too much!” I realized that I needed to defend my position on safety, and defend it quickly as a few early arrivals were coming through the doors.  I briefly quoted a licensing rule, followed by my passion and concern for the children’s safety. When I added in the possibility of donuts and coffee if they would agree to paint on Saturday, I had struck a deal.

You may read that and think, “That’s not leadership! That’s just following the rules.”  At the time, I did not think of myself as a leader, and would’ve agreed with you. The moment I moved the conversation to what was best for children, however, my intention shifted from following the rules to advocating for children. Yes, ADVOCATING! While it might not have been large scale political advocacy as we often think of it, I do believe that by suggesting a different approach to the painters, albeit only in my tiny early childhood program’s society, I was advocating on my children’s behalf. I was not marching on the steps of city hall, nor was I writing a letter to a legislator, but the Core Knowledge and Competencies for Administrators defines advocacy as the action of pleading for or supporting a cause or proposal, and that’s exactly what I was doing.

A key thing happened to me that day… I found my voice!  I was able speak out on and plead for what I thought was right for children. I utilized the research that I knew, combined it with my passion about what is right for children and mustered up the confidence to propose it out loud… the first step to becoming an advocate and a leader.

I challenge you to arm yourself with research and combine it with your personal mission about what you believe is right for children. Watch for opportunities to share what you know with others less informed.  At a recent Developing Early Childhood Leaders seminar at 4C, Elaine Ward, our senior vice president/COO, encouraged our group to share our expertise with elected officials. They depend on us to inform them about what is happening in the trenches.  Although I have never considered myself a political person, I do enjoy sharing what I know about children. This year, I am taking a big step and writing my elected officials regarding early childhood in Ohio.  I found their names and contact information in the nonpartisan voting information guide published by the League of Women Voters of the Cincinnati Area. Perhaps you are not ready for this step, but as you passionately speak to those around you about children, take a moment to consider yourself an early childhood leader and advocate!