(Originally posted at A Lighthouse.)

By Dr. Daniel L. Frazier

I once knew an executive who routinely displayed displeasure and sometimes contempt for his subordinates. Meanwhile he would preach to his team how they needed to improve staff morale. Unfortunately, the lieutenants emulated the leader. His team may have been told what to do, but they did as they were shown.

If the leader does not do it, there is actually a disincentive for someone in the rank and file to move toward the cutting edge. Whether intentionally or without awareness, a leader’s actions (or inactions) are setting the thermostat for the organization. We want the acceptance and appreciation of our leaders, so we emulate them and their actions. This is particularly why we gravitate toward dynamic leaders. They epitomize the courage, determination, and enthusiasm that we would like to see in ourselves.drfrazier-quote

I understand why many educators are slow to personally embrace modern technologies in their schools and leadership. Schools are people-centric organizations. We are held accountable primarily for how we interact with others and build relationships with students, staff, and community. There are a number of competent and highly regarded school administrators who meet the current expectations of their schools without an extensive skill set in using technologies. And as technology races ahead of us, we wonder if it is truly worth our effort to include this vast territory in our domain.

I have had my personal experiences with these doubts. As a young educator entering the profession, I embraced desktop computing very quickly. I recognized how it could enhance my work, and I have taken pains to remain current in this area. However, after several years in the professional, I saw the emergence of the new social medias, and I did not understand them. Late-night comics made jokes about the banal “tweets” that celebrities issued. Twitter seemed unintelligible, and Facebook seemed prosaic. I did not understand why these were relevant, and I finally concluded that the concept was maybe a generational thing. I decided to let the younger set move ahead with social media and its applications to education.

Then I had a small epiphany. A few years ago, I attended the National Conference on Education hosted by AASA. I joined several sessions focusing on technology, and all the speakers said the same thing: “A leader has to lead by example.”

I responded, “Of course! I knew that. Why did I forget that simple principle?” I left the conference with a personal resolution to get back ahead of the technology movement.

I believe my attitude toward technology and all it can do for our students is making a difference in how our staff view the future of education.

All leaders need to remember this simple truth about leadership by example, and we need to recognize that technology is the future for the students we serve. With this simple understanding, our direction is clear.

Be the leader. Set the example.


Dr. Daniel L. Frazier is a Superintendent in Litchfield, MN. He is also the founder of #SuptChat. He shares his insights on his website, A Lighthouse. Follow Dr. Frazier on Twitter at @DanielLFrazier.