As a life-long learner, I am always taking courses, reading books, and otherwise trying to develop my talents and hone my skills. A few years ago, I took a couple of online courses in executive leadership. At the time, I wanted to learn more about what it meant to be an “executive.” I had carried the title “Executive Director” for over 20 years but was confused by what that meant. I knew what a leader was and how that is different from being a manager. But what did it mean to be an executive?
These courses that I took helped me to understand that an executive is a leader of leaders. The job of a leader is to embody the purpose, vision, and values of the organization that they lead. An executive must take it a step further, guiding other leaders to also embrace this perspective.
An executive should also act as a coach, listening more than speaking, seeking always to understand first, then gently guiding leaders to find the right decisions within themselves. Of course, this requires patience and understanding. The executive has to let others make mistakes, to leave room for failure, to let the leaders learn. It also requires that the executive know when to step in to prevent harm to the organization.
I have to admit that I find this daunting. Although I have carried the title for many years, I am only beginning to understand what it means to be an executive. I hope to someday be a good one.
What does this have to do with PTA? Volunteering in PTA means becoming part of a leadership development program, whether you mean to or not. From volunteering to help with an event through local, council, and state PTA leadership positions, those who take up the challenge can learn to be great executives.
I see it every day with our board of directors and the region directors. I am constantly impressed and occasionally overwhelmed by all that they do. They are role models for me and I am grateful.
Andrew L. Estep
WSPTA Executive Director