Subscribing to one style of leadership may be the best way to end a career.

Multitudes of theories and research abound regarding how to be or become a leader. Here is my question: if becoming a leader is easily defined, as exhibited by the wealth of information available, then where are all the effective leaders? Sure, this may be a critical point to make, yet think about the question for a moment. How many truly effective leaders do you know personally? Who do you know that is truly leading and not just managing?

Frankly, it takes gumption to really step up and lead. It takes an even greater drive to find a means of thinking differently than everyone else. How does one become original when so much has already been done? Maybe the quest should not seek something original but rather something relevant.

Do not take this the wrong way. Transformational leadership, path-goal leadership, or moral leadership all provide ample resources for an individual to emulate. However, Lee Bolman and Terrence Deal pointedly say: “To recapture spirit, we need to relearn how to lead with soul.” The “soul” is very esoteric and largely indefinable. So where does one go with this?

Maybe the true testament of a leader comes into play on Monday mornings. Who are the people entering the building smiling, greeting others, and just genuinely excited to be there? What is the demeanor of the remainder of the staff on Fridays? Sure we all enjoy weekends, but who is living for the weekends and who is living for Mondays? Which of the staff write TGIF on their whiteboards or on their doors? Who writes TGIM? This analysis is not difficult to perform. Perhaps this is a signal of who is leading in the building or at least needs to be! As spring break approaches, how many times will you hear the phrase “spring break can’t get here soon enough?” Again, rest is necessary; time away is necessary, but there is a large chasm between living for the breaks and living to get another chance to be better as soon as possible.

I am writing this because I hope it sparks a conversation. Think again about your building and how many people really show a passion at 10 a.m. on a Tuesday versus those that show a passion at 3 p.m. on a Friday. Does this play a large factor in determining those who really want lead compared to those who just want to manage?

Byron Darnall

JG writes: Sometimes in life, if you are lucky, you run across kindred spirits. The author of this post, Byron Darnall, is the high school principal at Glasgow High School in Glasgow, Kentucky. Byron has also worked as a high school English teacher, and an elementary Assistant Principal. Byron and I are kindred spirits and love bouncing crazy ideas off each other. Byron and his wife Michelle had their first child, Greer, on December 31, 2010. You can follow him on Twitter @byron504.