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A Reflection on Leadership Thinking and Practice

Gregory Smith

Through the course of this program I have discovered that there are a variety of actions that describe
leadership. Leadership is a not a talent, but a gift that if successfully maintained will enable many. I
have learned in my time in the Education Specialist Program at Oakland University that Websters
Dictionary may not have told the complete truth when defining leadership as the action of leading a
group of people or an organization. I have found in my studies that leadership is the cornerstone of an
organization's mobility. Leadership is often viewed in a four part lens: the political, structural, symbolic,
and humanistic. Through countless moments of collaboration with a cohort of professionals in the field
of education, Ive come to know leadership as: integrity, accountability, charisma, trustworthiness,
honesty, poise, and visionary, forward thinking, flexible, empathetic, brave, organized, influential, everevolving, and kind. Accompanied with leadership is an undying love for growth and an unshakable
burden to results. I have learned from a variety of decorated and qualified instructors that leadership is
not about the destination, but the journey. More formative than summative, true leadership offers a
continual plan for growth that when incorporated under a teamwork model is most fitting to reach the
desired outcome. This outcome being, a new land with many footprints leading throughout the trail, not
only one. Ive learned that leadership can simply mean being available and showing up with an open
heart and blank canvas. Most importantly leadership is an action word, a flicker to a flame of
individuals who work collectively toward a place that is greater than themselves, farther themselves, and
better than themselves.
The experiences shared with my cohort were invaluable. The depth of knowledge and experience was
immeasurable. The passion for learning, growth, and people was evident with every moment we shared.
From the humor of sharing past experiences to the transparency of trusting their doubts and fears with
the cohort. Indeed, the time spent in discussion, collaboration, debate, and even flat-out arguments is

what made the program most meaningful. I felt as though I not only belonged, but my words and
opinions were valued. Individually I gained a wealth of information about the power of collectivism.
Together, with like-mindedness and a strong vision, my cohort has helped me to see anything is
possible.
I was also able to realize the importance of family support as it meant long days and nights away from
my family. There were many sacrifices but it helped show my children that education is important not
only to me but my wife as she assisted wherever she was needed in order to make this dream a reality. It
gave me great joy to have my children watch me graduate because in my observance and research, I
know that it is imperative to expose children to various experiences to give them the opportunity to
dream their own dreams.
It was fruitful to be able to use the knowledge that I gained in classes and seminars into practice as I
used them while serving as the assistant principal at Power. This year there were a lot of changes that
surfaced within the Farmington school district and knowing and understanding on a deeper level as to
why they were happening and which direction it would go in would not have been so plain if it werent
for the classes that I had during this time. As I was given the opportunity to oversee the transition of
upper elementary 5th grade returning to elementary and upper elementary becoming a middle school the
elements of ethics, advocacy and vision played a vital role in assisting me with planning this transition.
In essence it was determined that to get where we want to be as a school-community, we must first
understand where we have been. Holding to this truth and my training, the program through Oakland
University helped me to navigate more than 100 educators and building principals to a place of fluid
resolve that aligned student needs with staff strengths.

I am forever grateful for the knowledge, experiences, challenges, and triumphant moments I had while
completing this program at Oakland University. I believe that I am capable of much more than I

previously was and better prepared to make the changes and support those I serve with assurance. With
much conviction I am a better leader and have a greater understanding of the leader that I am called to
be.