What is this leadership thing you speak of? #42 #cong21


Leadership is perhaps more about NOT leading than leading. Being a leader is complicated and difficult, with not a little dose of imposter syndrome thrown in.

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Key Takeaways:

  1. Leadership is complicated and difficult.
  2. Is NOT leading a better example than leading?
  3. Imposter Syndrome makes for a better leader.
  4. Lead for good – not selfish reasons.

About Chris Reina

Chris Reina has been involved in education since 2002, technology since 1981 and Making since 1971. (You do the maths). He is 1/3 of MakerMeet.IE – who deliver Maker-led, project-based S.T.E.A.M. workshops nationwide to the education, enterprise and private sectors.

He feels passionately that education is the most important thing in the world and that teaching using Maker skills is the most rewarding job there is.

Chris loves cats, kayaking, kite-flying, steampunk, pedantic semantics and knowing the meanings of ligatures, aglets, gallibanders and lexiphanic.

Contacting Chris Reina

You can connect with Chris on his personal and maker meet twitter accounts, Instagram, Facebook or send him an email.

See also MakerMeet or TeachTech websites.

By Chris Reina

I have started writing this at least 6-7 times. I abandoned it each time and began a re-write. I still don’t know what to say. As someone who is a leader (albeit unintentional) for many people of varying age groups and areas of life – I often feel uncomfortable and fraudulent in my capacity as a leader.

Pondering this – while writing an essay on leadership is both ironic and leads to feelings of imposter syndrome. After the 6th (or was it 7th) time of writing, I began to ponder less on myself and more on my emotions. Perhaps… I thought – these very feelings are not uncommon and even add to the qualities of a leader.

As an educator – I certainly know it is better to exhibit the qualities of integrity, honesty, motivation, ethics and humility rather than teach them. Nudging rather than bludgeoning if you will.

Leadership can take many forms. From those who bully and berate to those that encourage and enrich. Perhaps the most difficult form of leadership is one of modelling. For me, a good leader attempts to model qualities and good behaviour to everyone – regardless of staff to customer; employee to manager; cleaning person to chauffeur; CEO to COO; educator to entrepreneur.

Certainly hard work, motivation, vision, 21st century skills, communication and compassion are all some of the requirements to succeed in being an effective leader. However, often I believe leadership is confused with success. While the two are not mutually exclusive, they are definitely not the same. As leadership can take many forms, so too can success. Defining both leadership and success can clarify to each of us how we see ourselves, our goals and our unique world-view.

Leaders are all around us. Family, society, education, government, religious, health, economic, world and more. I marvel at the pressure that must be felt by those with the dedication and responsibility for more than two of the above. It must be almost unbearable – and yet many bear it. To those who bear it with dignity and compassion in environments where many don’t want them to be leaders who succeed – I’m in awe.

There can be many reasons why some people want to be a leader. Money, power, control, fame, validation, glory and prestige are some of the poorer reasons. Some of the better reasons are a genuine desire to help others, selflessness, public-spiritedness, benevolence, humanitarianism and philanthropy. On self-reflection – I wonder which of the poorer or better areas I fall in to. It’s difficult to know sometimes and requires asking hard questions of myself. (Which I haven’t asked nor answered yet!)

I know many people in positions of leadership and many have taught me difficult lessons – some of which I’ve learned and some I haven’t! Most have earned my respect and a few have lost my respect entirely. For the latter, their guidance has fallen short of my hoped expectations – or more accurately, they simply didn’t care about their responsibility or job. “Meh” seems to cover them adequately.

In reflection of the leaders whom I respect entirely, most feel they are poor at their job, don’t work hard enough and are just “getting along”. Few see the gentle guidance, support and encouragement they offer on a daily basis. Imposter syndrome strikes again. And yet… I wonder again if that quality makes a better leader.

In short (or long?) – clearly, being a leader is complicated, difficult and fraught with self-doubt (well, for me anyway). To those who inspire and lead me – you know not what you have done – and yet have done the most. I’m remarkably fortunate to count those people as my friends, colleagues, and collaborators in diverse communities around the world and close to home. I believe we’re all leaders and to strive for better is always a worthwhile goal of success to define ourselves by.

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