Leaders recognize their impact. Optimistic leaders focus on the path forward. Optimistic leaders are passionate about achieving a vision and will persevere even when the going gets tough. Imagine if everyone in an early learning setting embraced their roles as leaders committed to working together to enhance children’s opportunities to be successful learners?
Let’s examine each of the five commitments to understand how early learning educators—across roles—are changing their practices as they learn about optimistic leadership.
1. Think impact to make informed decisions. Everything we say and do— every one of our actions—has consequences or benefits.
Action to Practice: Before you act or speak, pause and ask: What will happen if...? and perhaps more importantly, What do I WANT to happen if...?
2. Cultivate self-awareness to guide thought, emotion, and behavior.
Self-awareness allows you to monitor your emotions, thoughts, and feelings;
Action to Practice: Try to be humble rather than defensive.
3. Nurture relationships to support learning and collaboration.
Action to Practice: Think about relationship repair. Even the best relationships have struggles. Being the one to step forward and say, “I blundered, I apologize,” goes a long way in building trust, strengthening relationships, and improving program climate.
4. Refine communication for mutual clarity and understanding.
Communication is key to maintaining positive and effective relationships. Effective leaders use conversation and dialogue rather than top-down commands. Communication includes pausing before speaking, monitoring tone, listening well, asking questions, being sensitive to cultural and linguistic diversity, and using self awareness to reflect and adjust to the person with whom you are speaking.
Action to Practice: Notice the give and take you have in professional conversations. Sometimes we get caught up in what we have to say and we forget the listener, failing to see the cues the other person may give.
5. Activate curiosity to find connections and continue learning.
When we activate curiosity, we are more willing to take risks, experiment, and try things out. A curious and open mind invites learning. Rather than worrying about failure, the curious leader knows that errors can promote learning.
Action to Practice: Consider routine practices that drive your work on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis.
Consider, what might it look like if everyone in your setting practiced the Five Commitments of Optimistic Leadership?