9Leadership in Early Childhood Education
uses some form of advantage to influence the behavior of another person.
Power is often understood as a negative term in early care and education.
This connotation may exist because we are unfamiliar with the many ways
that power can be used in positive ways.
Power can be used on, for, or with another person. Power used on or over
someone is simply oppression, since the follower is not provided with choices
or options. Power used for someone is facilitation—opportunities, choices,
and options are provided, and the other person makes the decision. Power
used with someone is empowerment—you and the other person learn and
succeed together—which is a very important part of leadership because
each person can contribute unique gifts and abilities to accomplish a shared
or common goal.
Leadership is not simply having authority. A person in authority is the one
who has the right to make certain decisions. This right may come from a
variety of sources, including an elected or appointed position, age (as in a
family situation), or a professional position within a group or organization.
A leader may possess authority, but a person in authority is not necessarily
a leader. A person with authority may have the right to make a decision, but
that doesn’t mean she will make the right decision!
Leadership is not the same as having status. People with status may be
merely the people who occupy top positions within an organization. Status
doesn’t always determine leadership ability. There are people who work at
the top levels of every field who couldn’t lead a group of five-year-olds to ice
cream. All leaders have some form of status, but not all of those who have
status can be called effective leaders.
Is leadership the same as management? An ongoing debate rages over the
similarities and differences between management and leadership. For many,
the two terms are interchangeable; they’re seen as two different words for
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