Leaders Are People, Not Positions

Raymond PortenBlog, Connect Better, Lead Better


  • Everyone is a leader with or without an official title. Start to see yourself as one, and act on ideas to make it happen.
  • Everyone has the opportunity to be a role model and the power to lead. Don’t wait. Just start and take the first step.

When you look at a school, who do you look at as the leaders? Do you look at the principal? The assistant principal? The lead teachers? The building leadership team? Secretaries? Support staff? Nurses? Custodians? Students? 

Leaders Are People: Each Person In a School Is a Leader

Hopefully, when you look at your school and you look for the leaders, you think of all these people. Every person in a school needs to be a leader for that school to be truly successful and reach its goals. Every moment of every day, every person in the school has the opportunity to be a leader.

Don’t wait for permission or to be told. Don’t wait to be given the power. Everyone has the power to lead. The question is, do you have the courage to use it? Click To Tweet

Wait A Minute

Now I know many of you are thinking, “Wait a minute, the principal makes the decisions. The school board makes the decisions. The district office makes the decisions.” But do they really? Are they in the classroom with you all day, every day? Are they in the hallways, the cafeteria, or on the playground with you?

Let’s dissect this a little more. Are principals, school boards, or district office staff the only people observing what you do every day? Are they the only ones following your lead? I know your students are following your lead. Other teachers are seeing what you do and evaluating what they do, and perhaps, following your lead. Whatever position you have in your school, your classroom, or your life, you have the opportunity to set an example for anybody and everybody who sees you. 

For Example

If you think all teachers should meet their students at the door every morning, there are multiple ways to make that happen. If you don’t think of yourself as a leader in the building because you lack the title, you can go to the principal, building leadership, or district leadership, and ask them to put in a policy or procedure to make that happen. Let’s be honest. We all know that takes time, it takes discussions, and it takes agreement. However, there are staff who, if it comes down from the top, will resist. But if you model behavior, like meeting your students at the door and greeting them every day, you set that example of a simple way to positively affect your students. It demonstrates the willingness to form relationships with a quick gesture.

People will notice! Administration will notice and start to wonder, “Why aren’t we all doing that?” Students will notice and think, “I love the fact that my teacher cares about me, has fun with me, and greets me.”  Or they will think, “That looks like fun, why doesn’t my teacher do that?” Other teachers will notice and will start to think, “What effect does that have? Should I do that? Would my students like that? Why don’t we all do that?” Now, other teachers might not just start doing it. Some might come and ask you about it. Others might just try it. And some are going to wait until they see if it works or until they have to do it, but trust me, they will notice and you will have become a leader in your building.

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Does this work all the time?

No. However, it works more than waiting for someone else to take the lead. You don’t have to have a title to be a leader. Everyone is a leader. All you need to do is see something that needs to be changed or needs to happen and do it. We need more people to be leaders, to see a need, and to start addressing it. We need people to set an example and be role models for others. 

Leaders Are People, Not Positions: Use your Power

Vince Lombardi once said, “Leaders are made, they are not born. They are made by hard effort, which is the price which all of us must pay to achieve any goal that is worthwhile.”  If you want to reach your goals or help your school reach their goals…start now. Don’t wait for permission or to be told. Don’t wait to be given the power. Everyone has the power to lead. The question is, do you have the courage to use it?

About Raymond Porten

Raymond Porten is a husband to an AMAZING wife, two wonderful boys, a principal of an elementary school in northern Illinois, and a Golden Apple Scholar. He spends his free time traveling with his family, cooking with his boys, and he finds the time to co-host 2 podcasts. He’s been in education for 20 years and has worked as a 5th grade teacher, middle school dean, 7th and 8th grade social studies teacher, middle school assistant principal and now as a principal. He believes in the importance of building relationships and of taking every opportunity to lead and make a difference in the world.