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In one of our Leadership Academy sessions, we engage in an activity that asks the participants to reflect on their professional journey leading up to their current role as director. Considering what they know now, what advice would they give their younger self? What would they write in a letter to themselves? I left the training reflecting on this activity and pondered what advice I would give myself when I entered my first leadership position. Resulting from that reflection is the following letter to my past self.
Congratulations on your promotion! I know you are both excited about this opportunity to step into a leadership role and terrified about the challenges, worried that you are not prepared for the tasks ahead. You want to get started on the right foot and be the best leader you can be. I want to reassure you that you are where you need to be—you are qualified in so many ways for this position! If I could be your mentor now, I would offer a few pieces of advice from my years of experience and reflection on leadership that will help you as you begin this journey.
All of this advice would be great if I could, in reality, pass it on to you. You will learn all of this, of course, through the years by trial and error, connecting with really great colleagues who will become your mentors and thought partners, and through your desire to continue to grow as a leader. I am so thankful that you had the courage to take that first step!
Sending hugs and love,
What advice would you give your past self? How much of this advice are you following today? How could you follow the advice better? Reflecting on your past and lessons learned can help with your current experiences. It can remind you of what is important, ensure you continue to head in the right direction, and help you be a better mentor to those you lead.
If you are interested in building your self-awareness and reflection skills, consider attending one of the McCormick Center’s leadership academies: Ready to Lead, Taking Charge of ChangeTM, or Taking the Lead. Information on all of these professional development opportunities can be found here.
RESOURCES FOR EARLY CHILDHOOD ADMINISTRATORS ON LEADERSHIP
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Barb Volpe, M.Ed., is the Leadership Academy Manager for the McCormick Center for Early Childhood Leadership at National Louis University (NLU). In this role, she manages and facilitates leadership academies and quality improvement training for early childhood administrators and technical assistance providers. Barb has over 25 years of leadership and management experience. Barb enjoys developing trainings and has made many local, statewide, and national presentations. Barb obtained her M.Ed. from NLU in early childhood administration and her B.S. in child and family development from Southern Illinois University-Carbondale. Prior to her work at the McCormick Center, Barb worked in the early childhood field as an infant/toddler and preschool teacher, site director, and education coordinator for both community-based programs and Head Start. She has written articles on topics in leadership and management of early childhood programs and taught for several years as adjunct faculty at the local community college. Barb’s passion is to support center and home-based administrators in making continuous quality improvement for the care and education of young children and their families.