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This is a summary of basset blog entitled; leading from the middle. Patrick F. Bassett is the president of NAIS and the blog was first presented as a key note to the 2010 NAIS Summer Diversity Institute (SDI). The president in this blog gave a summary of what it means to lead from the middle especially in the context middle managers in schools. This essay will provide a significant quote from the blog and summarize the entire blog. It will also draw my reaction unto how it influenced my thinking.
"In our work, working from the middle doesn't mean you don't have positional power to achieve the gargantuan goals your school needs you to achieve. It means you must develop alternative sources of power, power that is based in expertise, relationships, and networks".
Basset noted that although School Leadership Institute and the Institute for New Heads are all about leadership training, the underlying point to those who attend these NAIS's summer institutes is to learn how lead and not the content of their specific job. He reminded them that they are already confirmed to lead and it is now up to them to determine how they will lead. He also advised the middle school managers that it is essential for them to form a team that will not only follow them but that will work towards winning the battles ahead.
Addressing the question on how to make high stakes decisions under the gun; he quoted the leadership lessons from Gettysburg via case studies of "leadership from the middle". He derived the following lessons for them from Gettysburg experience: Insisting that the leader communicate clearly the vision and intent as well as creating conditions for success, dealing with mavericks, knowing the importance of the effect of a leaders strategy, sensing what is important and what is critical, being satisfied with one great battle victory instead of going ahead to conclude the next engagement to win the war, and figuring out how strongly to challenge your leader, especially if they have never gone wrong.
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He also addressed the question on how to lead without positional power; he quoted the leadership lessons from Montepelier. Lessons from Montepelier offered other forms of power in the absence of positional power. These powers were applicable to the middle managers of schools and were: informational power-having the knowledge base and using it, interpersonal power-emotional intelligence from being likable, and associative power-social networking. Hence he noted that lack of positional power does not limit the middle school managers from achieving the school's goals. He concluded that leadership demands a lot from the middle school managers and that they don't need to be heads but only need their heads to be an ally for them to achieve greatness.
For a long time it has been the norm not only to strictly follow the directions from those in position power, but also not to question their decisions whatsoever. As middle managers, we are only left with an obligation to follow the directions from those in positional power. However, from the Bassett's blog of "leadership from the middle", I learnt how to understand the importance of and challenge those in positional power as well as the existence of other powers that can be used by middle managers to achieve greatly.
I have hereby realized that as a middle manager, I have some powers that I can use for the good of the school despite not being in position power. Hence I don't have to sit back and just watch as challenges come. I should form a team to assist in fighting these battles via those powers. I should also challenge leaders in power whenever they are wrong and define what is important and what is critical at any given time as a middle manager for the good of the institution. Through the knowledge that I have and social networking I should work towards achieving the set goals rather than waiting to be driven by those in power even when they are wrong.