Born to Lead

Joanne Myers

ETFO’s more than 60,000 women members bring many important skills to leadership. Researchers have discovered that the connections in the typical female brain often run from side to side between the left and right hemispheres. In the typical male brain they run between the front and back of the same side of the brain. This difference in the way the nerve connections are wired plays a significant role in explaining why women often excel at verbal tasks relating to intuition and memory, skills they bring to leadership. The brain also drives our emotions. The female brain is fast at recognizing emotions and feelings. This “hardwiring” makes a difference in everything we do as leaders, educators, mothers, sisters, aunts and daughters. Because of our pride in and passion for our profession we continually strive to take it to a higher level. As women educators in today’s classrooms, we are leading the way from the moment we get up in the morning until the moment we go to bed. The skills that come so naturally to us as teachers are well-established leadership skills that provide us with an expertise others must work hard to develop over time. Think about the multitude of leadership skills you demonstrate every day in your classroom, school and community as you

  • Create a vision and goals for the day ahead,the month ahead and the year ahead.
  • Develop plans, strategies and tools for assessing the day’s goals and learning.
  • Identify problems that need to be solved and fix them.
  • Demonstrate initiative and the ability to be collaborative.
  • Model a positive attitude, integrity and honesty.
  • Communicate actively with peers, students, parents and administration.
  • Use your sense of humour to lighten moments in your day.
  • Demonstrate confidence that you will achieve your goals.
  • Display commitment to your team and share your energy with colleagues.
  • Show your creativity, motivation and respect.
  • Inspire others every day and appreciate hard work.

So there you have it! I guarantee you can easily check off all of the above basic leadership skills as being integral to your many roles … and these are just the skills that you perform automatically. Think about all the other skills you have acquired and accomplished that push your leadership abilities up another notch. Many of you may be leading professional learning opportunities for colleagues, serving on committees or organizing and running a variety of special events. Others may be a mentor or an active researcher, or networking and sharing your learning and expertise with those who surround you. In all of these capacities, women naturally build inclusion, demonstrate cultural awareness and strive to reduce inequalities. Many of you have also chosen to get actively involved in ETFO at the local level, the provincial level or better yet, at both levels. Your union focuses on supporting and promoting you as a leader and strives to enhance your leadership skills and your professional learning through every resource, activity and program that is offered. ETFO’s mandate and goals place a priority on leadership, women, equity and social justice. ETFO acknowledges that you are lifelong learners and that you are leading the way inside and outside your classrooms every day. We trust and salute your professional judgement. We celebrate your strength and your ability to accept challenges and role transitions to create a brighter future for both your students and new educators to the profession. You make ETFO proud!

Joanne Myers is an executive staff member at ETFO.


General Secretary Sharon O’Halloran

As we worked on this women’s issue of Voice, I thought a lot about the importance of narrative, the stories we tell about ourselves and our social movements.

Sharon O’Halloran posing in office

The women’s issue of Voice is one that is close to my heart.