I wanted to write this brief post after listening to Doug Peterson and Stephen Hurley on VoicEDRadio reflect on my recent blog post We All Have the Potential to Lead. Something that both Doug and Stephen mentioned got me thinking. In my post, I used the word catalyst to describe leaders in the education system. I’m pleased that the choice of this word resonated with these gentlemen, and a conversation ensued, leading me to further reflect on the meaning of the word, catalyst.
As was pointed out in the VoiceEDRadio discussion, a catalyst doesn’t necessarily sit at the forefront. It may not be a person who holds the title of boss, or another designated title, but a catalyst can provide the spark that drives others forward. It’s not to say that someone holding a designated title cannot be a catalyst, simply that it doesn’t have to be.
Allow me to make an analogy. Think of a machine made up of many parts. Alone, these parts sit idle until a catalyst makes them spring into action allowing the machine to perform it’s designated function. Think along the lines of an ignition switch, or a starter in a car. If we recognize individuals acting as catalysts in our system, we need to help them overcome any barriers, perhaps they think that they don’t have anything meaningful to add to the conversation, and provide them with opportunities to have their voices heard. With social media, there has never been a better time to make this happen. These catalysts have a platform to reach other catalysts, each of whom has the potential to flip the ignition switch in those they serve. When these voices are aligned with a single purpose in mind, the result is synergy; we instead of me. As Doug points out in the interview, the results are greater than the sum of the parts.
To end, I’d like to answer a question posed by Doug in the interview. Yes, every time I walk into a school I’m on the lookout for individuals who are having a positive impact in their buildings. I realize I am in a position to empower others to broaden their reach, and I’m not going to miss this tremendous opportunity.