Find your next job fast at the Jan. 28 Virtual Career Fair. Register now.
Opinion Blog

Peter DeWitt's

Finding Common Ground

A former K-5 public school principal turned author, presenter, and independent consultant, DeWitt provides insights and advice for education leaders. He can be found at www.petermdewitt.com.

Education Opinion

Women and Leadership: 3 Ways We Need to ‘Show the Love’

By Peter DeWitt — May 13, 2015 3 min read

Today’s guest blog is written by Jennifer Abrams, one of the women featured in “18 women all K-12 educators should know.”

After the posting of the last blog I wrote on “Women in Leadership: Gender Bias and the ‘Confidence Gap',” John Bennett replied. “May I suggest that leaders, regardless of gender, owe it to themselves to facilitate confidence building - their results will show the positive impact!

I completely agree with John and I am grateful for his response.

What is confidence building?

Over the last number of weeks I have spent quite a bit of time with educators who, at the end of the school year, are getting understandably weary, cranky even, as they work with colleagues who, as I phrase it, need some ‘love.’ Confidence building is a long term project and it needs to be done even more intentionally and mindfully in the most stressful of times.

I say that at our most irritating and whiny is when we most need someone to build our confidence and as I am known for saying, be shown ‘some love.’ (Barry White voice required!)

3 demonstrations of ‘showing some love’ in the last month that I hope, for these female leaders, continued to close the confidence gap...

1. Fill in the Blanks - A female department chair took me out to dinner to ‘pick my brain.’ In this dinner conversation, as with many others, there was a tentative introduction of the ‘dream.’ “I want to start my own (fill in the blank)” and “I was considering applying for (fill in the blank),” and “What do you think about (fill in the blank)?” I listened, martini in hand, and then showed ‘some love.’ “Yes. We need you to do (fill in the blank). Go for it.” Stunned silence, a gulp, a thank you and a toast to the future.

2. Show Some Love - After working with an elementary school administration team for a year, we were doing a Google chat. With a few minutes to go I asked them what else I could do for them, and the response from one of the female administrators was, “Give us some love.” Facetiously and a little shy and not. “I see you. You are on the right track. You have been on the right track. Here’s how.” Laughter. Smiles. Shoulders went down. Don’t forget to show the love. We don’t take enough time to do that.

3. Decompress - A Director of Special Education and I had a conversation about her intimate relationship with the imposter syndrome. Imposter Syndrome? It’s when a person is on the job and feels as though, when their insecurities get the best of them, they have no idea what they are doing. No one is vulnerable enough in the office to admit that they have those insecurities too. I close the door behind us, we do the Edvard Munch’s ‘The Scream’ and take a deep breath. Decompressing is important, even if it means being silly with a trusted friend behind closed doors.

We often think adults should not need ‘some love.’ (Remember Barry!) Especially those in leadership positions. A leader should buoy herself up. Not true. We need to admit we need ‘some love.’ We need to be intentional and purposeful in our interactions with one another to facilitate confidence building in others, women in particular.

What I am talking about here isn’t new. Confidence building is featured in many books, each one with its own spin on the topic. Some go more ‘global.’ Liz Wiseman wrote The Multiplier Effect. And, Andy Hargreaves has Upliifting Leadership. Katty Kay and Claire Shipman added the gender filter and wrote The Confidence Code. And the CEO of confidence building for women, Sheryl Sandberg wrote Lean In.

So what I am talking about here isn’t new. It also isn’t ‘touchy-feely’ or too ‘woo-woo’ or only for ‘those emotional types.’ It is essential. Especially for women. And the more voices that share the message, the better.

Consider me all in.

Connect with Jen Abrams on Twitter.

The opinions expressed in Peter DeWitt’s Finding Common Ground are strictly those of the author(s) and do not reflect the opinions or endorsement of Editorial Projects in Education, or any of its publications.

Events

This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
School & District Management Webinar
Branding Matters. Learn From the Pros Why and How
Learn directly from the pros why K-12 branding and marketing matters, and how to do it effectively.
Content provided by EdWeek Top School Jobs
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
School & District Management Webinar
How to Make Learning More Interactive From Anywhere
Join experts from Samsung and Boxlight to learn how to make learning more interactive from anywhere.
Content provided by Samsung
Teaching Live Online Discussion A Seat at the Table With Education Week: How Educators Can Respond to a Post-Truth Era
How do educators break through the noise of disinformation to teach lessons grounded in objective truth? Join to find out.

EdWeek Top School Jobs

BASE Program Site Director
Thornton, CO, US
Adams 12 Five Star Schools
Director of Information Technology
Montpelier, Vermont
Washington Central UUSD
Great Oaks AmeriCorps Fellow August 2021 - June 2022
New York City, New York (US)
Great Oaks Charter Schools
Director of Athletics
Farmington, Connecticut
Farmington Public Schools

Read Next

Education Briefly Stated Briefly Stated: January 13, 2021
Here's a look at some recent Education Week articles you may have missed.
8 min read
Education Obituary In Memory of Michele Molnar, EdWeek Market Brief Writer and Editor
EdWeek Market Brief Associate Editor Michele Molnar, who was instrumental in launching the publication, succumbed to cancer.
5 min read
Education Briefly Stated Briefly Stated: December 9, 2020
Here's a look at some recent Education Week articles you may have missed.
8 min read
Education Briefly Stated Briefly Stated: Stories You May Have Missed
A collection of articles from the previous week that you may have missed.
8 min read