Recently, I started to participate in spinning classes at my local YMCA. I've always been a fan of bicycle racing, especially the Tour de France, because, to me, there is much to be learned about leadership when it comes to cycling.
I've discovered these leadership lessons exist even in spinning classes at the Y! For those unfamiliar with such classes, imagine a room full of stationary bikes with an instructor seated on his/her own bike in front of the group, where s/he can control the music, ventilation, and encourage participants by means of a portable microphone. It's a serious calorie burn!
It's funny how leadership can exist in so many forms. In this case, what I'm thinking of is the spinning instructors. Each has her (in this case, I've only had female instructors) own "spin" on the workout; each one is a leader. Yet, in paying attention to myself (i.e. how I react to the workout, including how I feel afterward), I've noticed that certain instructors affect me more deeply than others.
For each instructor (leader), I do the work, but 'doing the work' doesn't mean that I'm satisfied or that I feel nourished after the workout. For me, I perform better and feel more nourished when I'm with an instructor who lays out the vision for the course before we begin, then narrates along the way, allowing my imagination to construct the mental course -- hills, trying to outrun dogs, etc. I perform well, but not at my best, when I have an instructor who is very methodical and "correct' about leading the class, but who doesn't provide me with an opportunity to flex my imaginative muscles as much.
In other words, I've noticed that, for me, vision (and constantly keeping me focused on that vision) invigorates me during the ride, makes me notice the work a bit less, and gives me a real sense of communal (as well as individual) accomplishment when we finish the 'ride.'
It made me think about school leadership. There are leaders, then there are leaders. The first group includes those who do things 'by the book,' meaning that they do things well, operations are solid, and the school functions nicely. It's a good group. The second group, though, comprises leaders who are visionary and inspirational; they keep everyone 'pumped' and stretching for a goal. Everyone who works with such leaders feels jazzed about what they're doing and what the school is doing. The school doesn't just function nicely; it sings!
All this from spinning classes at the Y... Leadership is all around us. But do we always see it?