In talking with a friend, a story from my past popped into my memory.

Spending a lot of time with educators and focusing on their learning, I have noticed the impact of the principal, even when they are not in the room.  This is always not a direct reflection, but after connecting with some of the leaders of the schools that these teachers were a part of, there was a common thread.

If the principal is not learning, many teachers will follow that lead.

Here is a reminder from my own past…I remember one of my principals, who was one of the most amazingly kind men I have ever met, sitting at a teacher conference day listening to the main presenter.  Although he was an awesome man, he was in the last year of his career and many felt was just finishing off his time.  As the speaker started presenting, and was about five minutes into his presentation during this conference, myself and some of my colleagues sat and watched in amazement as our principal simply stood up, and left.  There was at least another hour to go, but he was done.

So what did we do?  We stood up and we left.

I have no idea what the circumstances were that day for our principal, but what we saw from our leader is what we chose to emulate ourselves.  We often talk about our students “checking out” right before holidays, but in many cases, are the teachers still totally checked in?  It is easy to point fingers at those that our lower in the organizational hierarchy, but as I have stated many times before, if principals do not show themselves as the “lead learner”, why would anyone follow suit?

To effectively lead, leaders must continually learn and share that learning.  It is always easier to say “do this”, but is more valuable to say, “do this with me.”