Admirals Don’t Fly 

I’ve been thinking about leadership recently. This came about in part because I’ve been working with the sea cadets and am considering reactivating my commission to serve as an officer again with the reserves. And that, in part, is due to my missing having a leadership role. It’s something I always loved about my military officer training and the jobs I had with maritime command and fleet school.

I love my job….I mean really love it. And I enjoy being on the college Board of Governors which temporarily at least fulfills that leadership interest I have. But I’m a professor – not a coordinator, not a manager – and was feeling a little like I didn’t have a leadership role within the organization. 

I might have sailed on that way indefinitely, but in the past few years a few things have happened.

  1. A senior administrator I trust and respect told me she thought I’d be a great Dean or Associate Dean. 
  2. A couple of management roles came up and I was tapped by someone else in the organization to see if I’d be interested.
  3. I began to be more aware of how much I value good leadership, and found myself thinking about the role of a leader.

So these potential opportunities were of interest. But I realized something.

I don’t want to leave the classroom. 

Musing about this on Twitter maybe a year ago, I had an epiphany. I’d been watching one of the rebooted Star Trek movies with the kids, and at one point, Captain Kirk is offered an Admiralty (yeah, that’s not how it works IRL). He says-and the quote resonated with me-

Admirals don’t fly, do they?

No they don’t. 

Kirk turned it down. 

I stayed in the classroom. 

I won’t rule anything out for the future. But it did make me start considering leadership and how it doesn’t have to be big. Leadership can be in the small things: taking initiative, helping someone, finding a new way to be efficient, effective, creative. 

And so I determined to start the new year reflecting deliberately on leadership. Not the grandiose kind. But the small everyday kind that we can all use in our jobs. I don’t pretend to be an expert, but it’s a topic that I’m interested in. 

My reflections will be more specific to the classroom I expect, but I want to explore and think about how I can apply leadership everyday.

Without leaving the job I love. 

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