Leadership = CARE for others & yourself!

Val Rathjen, Community Learning Network

1 3 15 January 2019

Leadership = CARE for others & yourself! Leadership is a topic that regularly captures my attention. In fact, when I have some spare time I am often drawn to books, TED talks, articles and conversations that inspire my own journey.

One of the best things about my job is that I get to interact with so many amazing leaders. No, I’m not talking about the people invited to speak at the Symposium, or the experts and professionals that contribute to the work we do. I’m talking about the CALP staff that daily exhibit leadership qualities and endeavour to make a difference in their communities, one learner at a time. 

There are many traits and characteristics that a good leader exhibits. Things like commitment and passion, honesty and integrity, and the list goes on. The quality that has caught my attention recently is caring.

There’s a book that sits on my desk called Be the Leader They Love. It was written by 5 professional facilitators and trainers from the Edmonton area.  One of the chapters in the book is all about caring and in it the writer says, “Authenticity, being real, is the hallmark of a caring leader. Caring leaders walk with, encourage, challenge, and support the people they are privileged to lead.” (Dan Jelinski, 2008) These are qualities that I see all the time in CALP staff. How do we create a caring and engaging environment?  Dan Jelinski continues his chapter with the following ideas and suggestions:

C = Connect with othersBe the leader

  •  Ensure that everyone has a voice.
  • Help people understand; they lead from wherever they stand.
  • Listen with the ears of the heart as well as the ears of the head.

 A = Appreciate, thank and value others

  • Accentuate people’s talents.
  • Maintain an unshakable trust in your people
  • Support the positive deviants who march to a different drummer.

 R = Recognize, celebrate others’ accomplishments

  • Celebrate success however small it may be.
  • Celebrate the striving that may have resulted in failure.
  • Give permission for people to make mistakes.

E = Embrace life, its light, and its shadows

  • Accept people totally – their talents and their blind spots.
  • Challenge people to reach and stretch.
  • Tell people how much they mean to you and how much you care.

(Dan Jelinski, 2008)

We all know that a welcoming and safe space is essential for the learners that we work with. In our work we are learner-centred, but we also need to keep in mind that the staff, volunteers, instructors and boards that we work with will thrive in a caring atmosphere as well. 

As we come back to work after a Christmas break I want to encourage all of you to invest in caring for those you work with, and for yourself. Ours is a field that revolves around giving and investing in others, but it is equally important to remember to invest in ourselves. Here are some ideas:

  • Nurture those relationships closest to you
  • Live one day at a time
  • Spend quality time with yourself
    • Do something you love
    • Pursue a dream
    • Cultivate a thankful spirit
  • Admit when you make mistakes and recognize that we all have been there; in fact, we often learn our greatest lessons from the things that went wrong
  • Laugh and have fun!

As you embark on this new year, investing in people and programming, I want to encourage you to take care of each other and be kind to yourselves.  Remember, you are not alone, there’s a whole system of people walking beside you and cheering you on.

PS If you’d like a short shot of leadership encouragement, check out this great 6 minute TED talk by Drew Dudley – Everyday Leadership

Val Rathjen, CLN
East-Central Regional Support Staff


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