Even the most genuine leader shows some aspects of himself or herself in public while only showing others in private. However, those who occupy the position of school principal should own their beliefs, not just borrow them for public consumption. Principals who borrow their beliefs will find that sooner or later they will be known for what they are: pretenders. A belief structure that shifts and fluctuates with various audiences becomes crippling over time. Sincere leaders thoroughly examine and align their principles so it is impossible to behave differently in public than in private. This level of fidelity is an essential discipline component authentic leaders possess.
If a tree falls in the forest and nobody is there to hear it, does it make a noise? If we translate this common cliché into a lesson for principled leadership, the answer is yes. If you betray your ethical values in private, even if no one is there to notice it, your integrity is not left whole. The reason? There was an observer: you. Sincerity of your leadership ethos is vitally important to the standards you set for yourself and your school. Don’t allow two perceptions of your beliefs develop within you. To allow one conviction to be held in private and another to be manifested for public use will inevitably compromise your leadership and reveal that you are ideologically bankrupt. You are not defined by an official designation or authoritative position, but rather by the way of life to which you have committed. Your time is best lived as you align the thoughts you hold in your public life with what you believe when you are alone.
Remember that the truest and most enduring beliefs you hold about teaching and learning should always be on prominent display. This is the difference between endeavoring to inspire others to do great things and relegating yourself to playing a role. Act on your beliefs publicly when you can, and in private behave as if you are being observed. Commit to the ownership of your ideals each and every day, whether you are on your own or in front of those who will judge you. In so doing, you will demonstrate your ownership of these principles rather than one who borrows them for the convenience of circumstances.