Leadership as Service to Others at Atlanta Jewish Academy

by Rabbi Pinchos Hecht, Head of School

Unconditional love for all of our children must be the starting point of our every interaction.  It must permeate and percolate throughout our school and our lives.  For this value to be deeply rooted, we must have the right leadership.

Leadership is best defined as "a collection of behaviors that empowers leaders to effectively serve others."  Leaders, through their behaviors, define and set the organization’s culture.  This culture is best defined as "an agreed upon set of behaviors that influences others and drives outcomes."

Positive outcomes are the result of good leadership. 

Negative outcomes are the result of poor leadership.

Good leadership is not focused on consequences and ever-growing lists of do's and don'ts.  It is about helping and growing everyone in the group to self-manage and to help each other.  It requires the establishment of an agreed-upon set of behaviors or a social contract that everyone voluntarily accepts.

Good leaders understand that anxiety is a natural part of life.  Anxiety is best defined as "fear-motivation."  Anxiety equals I want to succeed, but I am afraid.

An increase in anxiety lowers performance.

An increase in anxiety decreases motivation.

An increase in anxiety kills creativity.

An increase in anxiety leads to increased fear.

An increase in anxiety leads to inappropriate behavior.

Of course, by decreasing anxiety, good leaders are able to increase performance, motivation, creativity, and safety, and support appropriate behavior.

Good teachers know how to reduce anxiety.

  • They do this by increasing clarity and setting clear expectations. They know how to build lasting and trusting relationships.
  • They take their rightful share of responsibility.
  • They work to foster a safe and nurturing environment.
  • They create physical environments that reduce stress.
  • They affirm others and treat everyone with respect and caring.
  • They invite risk taking and celebrate both success and failure.
  • They are clear about what is in bounds and what is out of bounds.
  • They ask others how they want to be addressed and treated.
  • They are active listeners, tolerant and non-judgmental; they always act with integrity, patience, kindness, compassion, and a willingness to give others the benefit of the doubt and empower others.

In summary:

  • Good leadership is about service to others.
  • Good leadership is about earning the right and privilege to serve others.

What I know about our school is that it already has such leadership in its administration, faculty, and lay leadership.  I aspire to contribute to our team, and do my best every day to earn the right to lead and serve others.



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