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WHEN VIEWING ON A TABLET OR MOBILE -- DOUBLE TAP TO ZOOM Who We Are As Leaders We each are a composite of what we believe, how we understand things, and the actions we take. As a leader, it is critical that your core values—your guiding principles—inform your leadership beliefs, thoughts, and actions. Everyone has a core set of values. It is important for you to identify and articu- late your core values to yourself and be aware of how they influence your thoughts, words, and deeds. Even at an unconscious level, your personal values are always present and always influencing how you carry out your leadership agenda. Your leadership agenda is your personal plan for transforming an organization. Any strong agenda must include a powerful vision and message along with strategic action steps. All of these things are guided by a strong set of core values. To stay on track with your leadership agenda, you must frequently take stock of your plan by looking back, looking forward, and looking inward. Your core values are the tools you use to keep you on course and moving in the right direction. Anyone who wants to be a leader in the field of early childhood education must first make a personal commitment to doing the right thing for children and, even beyond that, must be guided by a set of leadership qualities. Your values, beliefs, experience, and training inform these qualities. You can learn these qualities for yourself, and you can develop them in others as well. Based on my experience and success in the field of early childhood edu- cation, I have identified a set of eight qualities that I believe will lead to your success as a leader. These eight leadership qualities are human potential, knowl- edge, social justice, competence, fun and enjoyment, personal renewal, perse- verance, and courage. They are the heart of this book. Together, these qualities form my core values, and I hope they will inform yours too. I do not want to dance around the truth and say that having just any set of qualities will make you an effective leader. That is simply not true. If you want to be an effective leader and bring about enduring change, these eight qualities of leadership are nonnegotiable. I view the absence of any one of these qualities as a fatal flaw in leadership. With time and practice, these qualities can become your core values—when they do, your skills and efficacy as a leader will flourish, and you will empower yourself to do the right thing for children. The Leader’s Core: You Are What You Believe 11 COPYRIGHTED MATERIAL