Article

The opportunities and rewards of a leadership role

Sam Hammond

Leadership opportunities exist at every turn. To be a leader you simply need to step forward and take advantage of one of those opportunities.

f you have taken part in your school decision-making process, organized a professional development program, been a mentor, developed partnerships with the community, or simply asked a question that no one else would ask you have already seized an opportunity and taken on a leadership role.

Over the past two decades I have had many diverse, challenging and rewarding leadership opportunities. They have been valuable professional and personal growth experiences. I have always believed that to be an effective leader I needed to focus on a few simple but fundamental things – integrity, communication, living up to my commitments, and last, but certainly not  least, ensuring that my actions would always speak louder than my words.

There were times when I found myself in a leadership role as a result of a crisis or unexpected event, like the  social contract crisis in the early 90s  or  our  province-wide  political  protest  in 1997. However, in most cases, I made a conscious decision to step forward as when I ran for the positions of chief  negotiator-grievance officer in Hamilton-Wentworth, ETFO executive member or ETFO vice-president.

Since August 2004 I have been extremely fortu- nate to serve as ETFO vice-president, a leadership role  that  has  been  challenging, rewarding  and extremely humbling all at the same time. It is a very dynamic role with a myriad of responsibili- ties. These are set out in our constitution and are reviewed  and  assigned  annually  by  the  ETFO executive and/or the president.

Last year my immediate responsibilities included the ETFO public relations portfolio; liaison to a number of labour and social justice and equity organizations;  serving on OFL, CLC, and OTF committees; representing the membership on the OTF Board of Governors; and acting as the executive liaison to eight ETFO standing committees.

During 2004–2005 I was also responsible for publishing Minding Your Business, an executive summary of each ETFO executive meeting. I also took great pride last year in serving as a member of  the  ETFO administrative,  personnel, hiring, and executive appeals committees.

This year my responsibilities are largely the same except that I am now responsible for the ETFO political action portfolio. Fulfilling the duties of this portfolio requires a great deal of organization and planning, and working very closely with a number of ETFO executive staff. This portfolio will become extremely active and interesting as we move closer to the municipal elections in the fall of 2006 and the provincial election scheduled for 2007.

Equally important is ensuring that as an elect- ed member of the ETFO leadership team I am listening  to,  and  advocating  for,  members  in everything that I do. As a union leader, whether I am addressing a gathering of new teachers, meet- ing with an MPP, or visiting members in schools in various locals, I am always representing some 70,000 teachers, occasional teachers, and educational support staff professionals.

It is an honour and a privilege to serve as ETFO vice-president. The  sense  of  pride  that  results when I know my actions have had a positive effect on the lives of our members makes every minute of every day worthwhile.