6 Chapter 1 Who Are Leaders? Leaders are individuals who influence others in a way that encourages them to higher or better performance and personal development. Effec- tive leaders may or may not have authority, position, or status. They do, however, have integrity, dignity, and respect for others. Leaders empower, encourage, and support others in a shared effort to achieve goals or create change. Leaders can be found at all levels and in a variety of positions in early childhood care and education. They take action where action is needed, and they enable others to take action when their strengths and abilities are needed. Effective leaders care about other people. They see their relationship to and with others as essential to the overall strength and vitality of the group or organization. Effective leaders and effective leadership generate more leaders, thereby strengthening the leadership process itself. Early childhood teachers are familiar with providing encouraging, empowering, and supportive learning environments for children so each and every child has opportunities to learn. In this way we strengthen the learning process. We can also provide this kind of learning environment for each other by encouraging better performance and personal development from each other. Veteran teachers can take newcomers under their wings and point out areas for growing and learning. This process is best imple- mented with respect for the new teacher who is learning to master a new task and is still developing, not unlike the way a teacher helps a child who is learning to master a new task. Just like the child, the new teacher has the potential to master that task and teach it to someone else. In this way we add to the leadership pool and the leadership process. How you see your role will influence what kind of leadership you bring to a situation. For example, leaders have been described as scouts—those who go out ahead of the rest to show the way. Other terms used to describe leaders are architect, catalyst, advocate, prophet, mediator, and coach. Leaders might be considered poets who look at their work settings from a variety of perspectives. Leaders can be designers and stewards who build communities in which people continually expand their capabilities. Leaders are learners, performers, power brokers, and role models. All of these terms describe LTL2_FINALpp.indd 6 11/4/09 3:21:08 PM