Making Your Mark: Becoming a Teacher-Leader

Erin HealeyBlog, Lead Better


  • Leaders all have different strengths and weaknesses.
  • Reflect on what your personal strengths are.
  • Enroll in the Teach Better Academy course to dive deeper into being a teacher-leader.

What does it mean to be a leader? 

For most of us, our understanding of leadership is based heavily on our understanding of evolution. We think there are prestigious leaders or there are domineering leaders. Their status in society might come from money, knowledge, or physical strength, but we frequently believe there is some characteristic that sets “leaders” apart from “followers.” To uncover what makes a leader, researchers at Gallup set out in 2009 to qualify leadership; they interviewed over 20,000 “leaders” and “followers” and reviewed millions of studies run by diverse organizations around the world.

Leading from an understanding of your strengths also means owning and relaxing your focus on your areas of growth. Click To Tweet

Their research fell into these three key insights about leadership:

  1. No two leaders share the same strengths and weaknesses. Attempting to mimic the skills of another will offer only limited benefits.
  2. No leader can be good at everything; they should focus on using their strengths. Dr. Jeremy Sutton, writing for Positive Psychology, summed up those insights; “If you try to be good at everything, you will most likely only excel at mediocrity.” This study proved that there is no one definition of leadership, and leading is not a solo act.
  3. Everyone has innate strengths that, if focused on, can contribute more effectively to a successful end goal. It is identifying and leveraging those strengths that make a strong leader. 

What are your personal strengths?

Identifying your personal strengths is the first step in becoming a leader. What makes you unique? What character traits come naturally to you? Are you an excellent public speaker? Or the person who asks the quieter staff members to provide input during meetings? Are you a meticulous planner? Or an adaptable compromiser? There are several free and paid strengths identifiers online, but I know that all educators will understand this analogy. We teach students to build from their areas of confidence to new learning through Maslow’s educational philosophy. We push them outside of their comfort zones after identifying what those comfort zones are. This is a moment of reflection! What does your comfort zone look like? 

Leading from an understanding of your strengths also means owning and relaxing your focus on your areas of growth. These challenging areas may seem like a deficit to you, and because of that perception, they are draining your energy and attention. You can’t be a successful leader if you’re constantly trying to fill a leaking bucket. That’s not to say ignore these areas of growth—we are all lifelong learners, seeking to be better today than we were yesterday, and even better tomorrow than we were today! It’s just a matter of reframing your perspective; work first towards those buckets that are primed, through your unique personality traits and experiences, to overflow. Only then can you begin to address those aspects of your job, your position, or your situation that you are not yet confident in. 

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Making Your Mark: Becoming a Teacher-Leader Course

In the free Teach Better Academy course, “Making Your Mark: Becoming a Teacher-Leader,” you’ll be able to reflect on your strengths and then identify ways to leverage those strengths across three different areas of your life as an educator; in your classroom, with your colleagues, and through your broader educational community. Leadership is a collaborative act, so we’ll examine the various communities you are already part of and find ways to share your voice in those spaces. It is an introspective dive that will produce a different result for everyone, but that’s what leadership is! A mosaic, with different pieces, is brought together to create something powerful. You can be the agent of change in your classroom, in your schools, and in our entire education community. I can’t wait to see you in the course!

About Erin Healey

Erin is an Instructional Coach at Portsmouth High School, in Rhode Island. With a Master’s in Education Psychology and a background teaching high school English, Erin is also the founder of the Young Educators Society of Rhode Island (@yesriorg) and the Speakers Network Manager for the Teach Better Team. When she’s not hanging out with rockstar educators, she’s either running with her puppy or playing the trumpet in her local concert band.