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My Philosophy on Leadership

My philosophy on leadership is that one must know oneself to be an effective leader. Therefore, I believe it is imperative that leaders continually seek opportunities to explore who they are and what drives them. As a student, I have learned and practiced observation skills, which have aided me in understanding the leadership and management needs of young children. As a leader, I strive to learn about others to better understand their needs. By understanding the needs of others, I am better able to establish a role in which I can make my contributions count. To be an effective leader, I believe one must first be self-aware. Self-awareness enables leaders to take control of their lives—ensuring that their actions and leadership are congruent with the most important values.

Leaders must also recognize that their influence is limited but still significant. Leaders' extent of influence on others may be temporary or permanent; difficult or easy; direct or indirect; easy or difficult for oneself or others; necessary to cause change, or merely considered desirable by others (Petriwskyj, 2010)

Leaders must also recognize many unintended consequences of their actions and leadership. When leaders make decisions, they must acknowledge that the results of those decisions may be very different from the initial decision itself. (Waniganayake et al.,2017)

To be an effective leader, one must also recognize that their influence is limited yet significant. Therefore, they must understand the potential importance of their role in a child's life—their ability to contribute to children's lives in ways that will make a difference in children's futures. 

Leaders must also work towards awareness that in being leaders, they will have power over other people. This realization should help leaders recognize their power and the potential for abuse of power. However, even with this recognition, the impact will vary from person to person—sometimes requiring education on boundaries and other times requiring leadership skills training. The most effective leaders are those who recognize that they too can benefit from training or mentoring. (Rodd, 2014)

During my leadership career, the philosophy I have adopted is that I cannot lead without support. This statement holds whether the support comes from colleagues, superior managers, coworkers, friends, or family. It also applies to the kids in our care. Like any other profession, leadership requires a team, and successful teamwork requires collaborative partners and equal teamwork (Elliott et .al., 2016).

I believe all leaders must learn about themselves first; to know what drives them and where they stand on the critical issues of their time.

Context

Global leadership has become a vital component of my professional career. Global leadership is an important skill to have as an early childhood educator. The world is becoming smaller and more connected, which means we need to understand and implement globally responsible practices in our today’s world (Davis, 2015)..

It is helpful to visualize the world as a globe with many countries, cultures, economies, and societies to understand global leadership. We are now living in what can be considered one "world"—a world of opportunity for everyone no matter where they live, the color of their skin, or their bank accounts. Understanding global leadership means we must learn how to take our lead from leaders and practice it with others. Global leadership is about changing individuals, groups, and nations and shifting our values and expectations (Briggs & Goodson, 2008). The world has changed, and it will continue to change in all aspects—economics, politics, cultures, climate—so we must also be aware of this change. We must also recognize that our role as leaders has grown and become more complicated—we now have responsibilities for ourselves and others. The world is changing, and we need to change with it. Like leaders in the past, we must learn how to be self-aware and conduct research on the needs of many others (Bloom, 2015).

Conducting research is crucial as a leader as it helps us gain a deeper understanding of our surroundings and the people within this vital aspect of our lives. Learning about other cultures is always necessary, but we must always do so respectfully. We must also consider the differences between cultures; however, it can be challenging to know what aspects of those differences are essential for individuals and our program areas (Hill et al, 2014) Therefore, we must consider doing some individual research on each of our children. This can be done by speaking with the child, asking them about their family and home life, or observing them in their natural environment. 

Early childhood services have a lot of changes and give children a chance to learn about the world around them through interactivity in a real-life environment.

 This would enable children to develop their skills, knowledge, and competencies. The project is based on the idea of sustainable education for young children. Sustainable education aims to develop children's curiosity, perceptions, and skills in learning about the natural environment.

A partnership is a key element in developing a sustainable project for children at an early childhood service. This includes relationships between parents, educators/teachers, children, and community members. The partnership or cooperation between the individual can be achieved through social networking. At the same time, the parent's role is vital; they will use their own experiences to teach their children about the environment and be more committed to the project. (Elliott et.al., 2016)

Reasons for this Project

With a partnership between parents, educators, and children, it is easier for children to learn more about sustainable development. Children are also allowed to participate actively in the decision-making process. Parents will also feel like teachers support them, and the learning process is more fun for their children.

There has been increasing interest in sustainability from people of all ages. Sustainability has become an international buzzword in education with pedagogical implications and environmental and economic concerns. The education community is interested in finding practical strategies that help students learn about sustainability (Clarkin-Phillips, 2011). 

The idea of developing a sustainable project for children at an early childhood service grew from identifying a need for change that was identified by parents, educators, and the community. The project was also in line with the Australian Early Years Framework.

There have been positive responses from teachers, parents, and some community members. It has been challenging to keep children involved; however, this might be because of other activities at the service, such as sports, music, or learning activities. This has led to less emphasis on sustainability as an educational activity.

The social networking aspect shows how people can interact together rather than compete. Participating in the project has been enjoyable for some parents, educators, and children. The feedback from these people is that it's a great idea to introduce sustainability to children from an early age (Hard, Press & Gibson, 2013).

In this project, parents were involved as well as community members. Community members have been able to make suggestions and ideas for the sustainability project. Parents had their own experiences of learning about sustainability to be more aware of things that affect children's everyday lives and the environment at large. The families who participated in the project agreed that sustainable education would make children interested in the natural environment. .( Australians children Education & Care Quality Authority)

The key strengths of this project include many factors, such as providing parents with more information about sustainability. The sustainability movement is growing in popularity among people interested in environmental issues. Sustainability has become a buzzword that everyone is talking about. 

The project's main goal was to establish a sustainable project for children at the early childhood service. Some outcomes include:

-Educators/parents, and children have learned more about sustainability by participating in it.

-Schools have benefited from the resources developed to run a sustainable project; they can reuse them in other environments.

The General Response to the Project

 -Educators/parents, and children have had more contact with each other because of the sustainability projects. This has been achieved through social networking, e-mails or advertising in newsletters, etc.

-The project is more enjoyable for participants because of the partnership that has been developed between the various people involved.

 -The sustainability project made the children's curiosity and understanding of sustainability more exciting.

Aspects along the way:

-The sustainability project has developed positively, and the educators have learned sustainability skills.

-There have been problems with the children's involvement in the sustainability project, keeping them interested and engaged.

-Develop a more exciting aspect of learning about sustainability, so children will be more involved in it and have a more positive view.

 -More cooperation is needed between parents, educators/teachers, and children as this will lead to fewer problems through participation in the sustainability project.

The leadership strategies implemented are:

Facilitating the development of skills in collaboration within the project team, developing ethical and moral codes of conduct for all staff members within the project team, confronting issues with others on matters related to the sustainability projects outcomes, and supporting staff's efforts to achieve these outcomes.

These key leadership strategies were identified because they helped establish a more constructive working environment where all involved were more comfortable when it came time to discuss any issues or concerns they may have had. This was accomplished by establishing values, ethics, and moral codes of conduct which established guiding principles for everyone concerned who had been part of the project. Regardless of how long someone was part of the project (Carter & Curtis 2009).

The leadership strategies that successfully met the program objectives were making staff members aware of all responsibilities and requirements regarding the sustainability projects outcomes. The purpose is to empower staff members to be more proactive when dealing with issues they may have with achieving the results—making them more confident that it was their duty to do so as members of the project team and not have to rely on management for help.

Another critical leadership strategy that was successfully implemented was the establishment of ethical and moral codes of conduct. This was done by establishing guiding principles for everyone concerned who had been part of the project. Regardless of how long someone was part of the project, these guidelines are held (Cologon, 2014  ). This practice established a more constructive working environment where all involved were more comfortable when it came time to discuss any issues or concerns they may have had. With staff members no longer having to rely on management for help in dealing with problems that arise, but feel confident that they can talk about these issues amongst themselves, then approach management when necessary(Horsley, 2014). These leadership strategies need to be implemented because they show staff members that they can do so. When working as a team, they can accomplish anything. This, in turn, helps them be more confident in themselves and their work (Johansson, 2009). 

The Key Strengths of this Project

The leadership strategy developed within the project was to create a collaborative environment where staff members of all levels felt comfortable with one another. I made this goal a priority because I knew it would be challenging to have all concerned fully participating when working towards achieving the program objectives if people felt uncomfortable when dealing with certain members of the project team or event management—in effect, making them feel less dedicated to achieving such outcomes. This leadership strategy was successful because staff members were now more comfortable talking about their issues amongst themselves, then approaching management if necessary to address the issue (Carter & Curtis 2009).

Furthermore, the method of these leadership strategies was used to empower staff members to be more proactive when dealing with issues they may have with achieving the outcomes by engaging them in dialogue and discussing topics on matters related to these outcomes. For instance: environmental education, sustainability goals, and sustainable development. Making them feel confident that it was their duty to do so as members of the project team and not have to rely on management for help. (Hard, Press & Gibson, 2013). 

The project objectives which were successfully achieved  (i..e. the goals and outcomes)  were that all staff members, from management to junior staff members, are aware of their responsibilities and requirements regarding the sustainability projects outcome. This was accomplished by employing a communication strategy that allowed staff members from management to junior staff members on the project team to be informed of these issues and have an easy time when it came time for them to address the problems with other project team members or management. (Hinman, 2017)

The leadership strategies which were effective in ensuring this outcome was developing a supportive working environment where all involved were comfortable with one another. This was accomplished by establishing guiding principles for everyone concerned who had been part of the project. Regardless of how long someone was part of the project, these guidelines are held.

Challenges:

I had no issue with achieving my planned outcome; it was relatively easy to achieve my intended outcomes. My proposed outcomes were the following:

  1. To understand the role of leadership within their part of children's center manager
  2. To gain knowledge and skill in the evaluation of strategies and actions taken in leading a team working toward sustainability and other strategic goals
  3. To have personal confidence in my capabilities as a leader to evaluate my strengths and weaknesses in leading a team working toward sustainability based on knowledge gathered from project activities, subject readings, and course evaluations.

The main challenge faced was the inherent uncertainty of project outcomes, which added anxiety and instability to my role as a leader. I met this challenge by constantly gathering data from observations and feedback from peers involved in the project. This allowed me to make predictions for future outcomes throughout the project; this, in turn, gives me peace of mind and knowledge that the result can be determined with some definable markers of success.

I also had to overcome a lack of support from management within both my center and more comprehensive systems. I overcame this challenge by communicating what I was going to do and why with each team member on the project. This was important as they had to be in the loop to ensure that they were provided with enough information to commit support and accountability. The 'why' of each intervention was important when planning how our team would interact with the staff and parents. (Paujik)

The social pressures on me to finish the project in time for my predetermined outcomes added an extra burden on my leadership role. This challenge was dealt with through a consistent practice of being open about my plans and commitment to presenting these clearly to each team member involved in ensuring I did not leave people out. In general, I found myself willing to take risks in my work as I felt confident about delivering daily performance targets for the project. This provided a sense of stability within my role as a leader. ( Australians children Education & Care Quality Authority)

This course is unique because it was an opportunity to gain leadership experience as well as academic study. The teaching methods used for this course were interesting and informative, and the subject readings were very beneficial in providing me with background information. Almost all of my daily learning activities centered around developing leadership skills and teamwork through project activities, social interactions, and journal writing. It is clear that student leadership is becoming increasingly important in today's society; I am thankful for the opportunity to be involved with such a highly engaging course and look forward to future classes with the understudy. 

References:

Australians children Education & Care Quality Authority.THE EDUCATIONAL LEADER RESOURCE

Bloom, P.J. (2015). Blueprint for action: Leading your team in continuous quality improvement. (3rd Edn.). New Horizons.

Bloom, M. L. (2015). "Fifteen Leadership Tips That Will Help You Succeed" Retrieved from: https://www.successminers.com/how-leaders-make-great-decisions/15-leadership

Briggs, A. & Goodson, J. (2008). Leading Children: An Introduction to Early Childhood Education.

Clarkin-Phillips, J. (2011). Distributed leadership: Growing strong communities of practice in early childhood centres. Journal of Educational Leadership, Policy and Practice (26) 2, pp. 14-25.

Carter, M., & Curtis, D. (2009). The visionary director, second edition: A handbook for dreaming, organizing, and improvising in your center. Redleaf Press.

Cologon, K. (2014).  Better together: Inclusive education in the early years. In K. Cologon (Ed.). Inclusive education in the early years. Right from the start.  (pp. 3 - 26). Melbourne, Australia: Oxford University Press. 

Davis, J. (2015). What is early childhood education for sustainability and why does it matter? In Davis, J (ed.). Young Children and the environment: early education for sustainability. (2nd edn). (pp. 7-31). Cambridge University Press.   

Elliott, McCrea, Newsome & Gaul (2016) Examining environmental education in NSW early childhood education services: A literature review with findings from the field

Hard, L., Press, F., & Gibson, M. (2013). ‘Doing’Social Justice in Early Childhood: the potential of leadership. Contemporary Issues in Early Childhood, 14(4), 324-334.

Hill, A., McCrea, N., Emery, S., Nailon, D., Davis, J. M., Dyment, J. E., & Getenet, S. (2014). Exploring how adults who work with young children conceptualise sustainability and describe their practice initiatives. Australasian Journal of Early Childhood, 39(3), 14-22

Horsley, J. A. (2014). "Effective Leadership in the Early Childhood Education Sector". "Scaling up for Success, Globalization and Internationalization: Effective leadership for managing change and building capacity in early childhood education" 1st edn pp61–74   Retrieved from: https://www.springeropenaccess.com/content/2/1/0230347 . DOI 10.

Johansson, E. (2009). The preschool child of today—The world-citizen of tomorrow?. International Journal of Early Childhood, 41(2), 79-95.

Johnson, M., Connelly, N., Wakefield, T. & Bailey, D. (2014). Early Childhood Education in Australia (Fourth Edition). Sydney: McGraw Hill.

Logan, H., Press, F., & Sumsion, J. (2012). The quality imperative: Tracing the rise of 'quality' in Australian early childhood education and care policy. Australasian Journal of Early Childhood, 37(3), 4-13.

Paujik YM, Miller M, Gibson M, Walsh K. ‘Doing’ socio-political sustainability in early childhood: Teacher-as-researcher reflective practices. Global Studies of Childhood. July 2020. doi:10.1177/2043610620941133

Petriwskyj, A. (2010). Diversity and inclusion in the early years. International Journal of Inclusive Education, 14(2)

Rodd, J. (2014). Leading Change in the Early Years: Principles and practice. Open University Press. 

Waniganayake, M., Cheeseman, S., Fenech, M., Hadley, F., & Shepherd, W. (2017) Leadership: Contexts and complexities in early childhood education (2nd ed.). Melbourne: Oxford University Press. 

Hinman, R. "Early childhood education: Budget cuts to hurt states". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 26 October 2017 fromhttps://www.smh.com.au/politics/federal/early-childhood-education-budget-cuts-to-hurt-states-20170527-gwg7e1.html

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