• Think about the purpose of our actions and how those actions
relate to the goals and directions of the group
• Balance the needs and relationships of the people involved with
the needs and requirements of the tasks to be completed
• Be able to hold onto our vision of the future while focusing on what
needs to be done today
As with reading and writing, the ultimate goal in leadership develop-
ment is to eventually perform these multiple tasks so quickly that leadership
becomes a single fluid process.

Coordinating Different Senses
Children coordinate many different senses when they play in and explore
their world. They taste the toy and make sense of it orally and manually.

They see the toy and listen to the sounds it makes as it is tasted and held.

They smell the toy and experience a feeling of satisfaction and happiness
with the whole experience. Similarly, as adults, we coordinate many differ-
ent senses when we take part in a leadership situation. We see the dynamics
and the individual facial and body expressions of other people. We sense
the energy of the group, the individual, or the situation. We hear the words
and the tone of what is being said. Much like a child coordinating differ-
ent senses, as adults we coordinate different leadership skills to accomplish
things or to master new skills.

Developing Competency over Time
Being patient with your developing competency is critical to your leader-
ship development. Children feel good about themselves and their abilities
when they believe they are competent at doing what is important to them
and when they believe they can compete equally with their peers. Feelings
of incompetence come when children repeatedly fail at something or when
they are told that they aren’t capable. A very perceptive and bright child
once described the difference between gifted and special education: “in the
gifted classes, teachers find out what you are good at and let you do it again
and again and again. In the special education classes, teachers find out
what you can’t do and make you do it over and over and over.”
Leadership in Early Childhood Education

Feelings of competence and incompetence affect your leadership develop-
ment. You will feel incompetent while you are practicing and learning some
skills. Reflection will be key. As you repeat various skills and learn new ones,
think about the result, the consequences of your words and actions.

Ask Yourself
Did things turn out the way you expected? Are you getting
better? Can you tell?
When do you feel competent? Is it when you believe that
others think you are capable of succeeding? Why do you
feel that way? In what ways do the opinions of others influ-
ence your sense of competence?
When do you feel incompetent? Is it when you believe that
others do not think you are capable of succeeding? Why do
you feel that way? In what ways do the opinions of others
influence your sense of incompetence?
Think about the natural stages of development as you build or con-
struct your knowledge of leadership practice, and take baby steps in your
leadership development journey. Through our knowledge of childhood and
adolescent development, we know that there are various stages at which
humans strive to construct an identity—a clear understanding of who we
are, why we are, and how we want to be in the world. The same holds true in
the developmental process of becoming a leader. Just as babies understand
words long before they can actually talk, you will understand many leader-
ship concepts long before you can apply them. Your first attempts may feel
like baby talk (“All broke,” “Me bite,” or “Kitty bye-bye”). With practice and
patience, your leadership attempts will become more complex (“The cup
is broken,” “I bit the apple,” or “The cat is gone”). At some point, you will
arrive at the adolescent stage of leadership. At that stage, it may be helpful
to ask yourself the following questions:
• Who am I as a leader?
• What am I good at?
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