Name: Len Fakkema
Organisation: Ontario Christian Schools - Ontario, California
I have had experience teaching K-12 in my career. I am currently the superintendent of Ontario Christian School. My experience as a classroom teacher and principal has prepared me for my current job. I love and have a passion for Christian education. God has called me to be an educator, administrator, husband, dad and grandfather. I am a servant-leader and strive to be a Christ-like example to those I come into contact with each and every day.
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We’ve gone through the interviews and asked the best of the best to come back and answer 7 MORE Questions on Leadership.
I hope Len's answers will encourage you in your leadership journey. Enjoy!
1. As a leader, how do you build trust with employees, customers and other stakeholders?
As a leader, I work on establishing relationships with my employees, customers and other stakeholders. Relationships are key to gaining trust. It takes time, but well worthwhile. I get to know them on a personal level so that I can have a meaningful conversation with them. I try to eat lunch with our teachers and staff in the teacher's lounge whenever possible so that I can engage with them. As a school, we have several activities that we invite our families and other stakeholders to participate in. I make sure that I try to greet them and encourage them as well.
Another important part of establishing relationships is being visible in the community. I have found that greeting students at the beginning of the day goes a long way. Parents see me fist bumping and welcoming students. This creates a trusting community at our school.
2. What do 'VISION' and 'MISSION' mean to you? And what does it actually look like to use them in real-world business?
The vision and mission of our school is the core of why we are part of the Ontario community. We need to know where we are going, why we are going the direction we are going, and what the outcome will be for our students. Our vision and mission shows how important it is to have our students equipped to serve in the world today. We want students prepared to serve God and others, seek His Truth, and impact culture. Our prayer is that they will use this in the real-world when they depart our school.
3. How can a leader empower the people they're leading?
A leader can empower the people they're leading by trusting them to do their job. I believe that trust is a very important part of being a leader. Another way to empower them is by encouraging them. I have found that encouragement helps foster trust and commitment. A third thing is collaboration. When leaders collaborate with the people their leading, it creates a culture of trust as well.
4. Who are some of the coaches or mentors in your life who have had a positive influence on your leadership? Can you please tell a meaningful story about one of them?
I've had several coaches/mentors in my 43 years of education. One that comes to mind is a superintendent that mentored me as a first year principal. During my evaluation, he told me that he wondered why I asked so many questions during the school year. I had to remind him that I was a first year principal even though I had taught for 32 years. He said, "Oh that's right, I just thought you knew everything already." I did not know everything and needed his advice. He then told me that he appreciated that I was gleaning knowledge from him. Needless to say, I never thought I'd use that knowledge to be the superintendent that I am today.
5. Leadership is often more about what you DON'T do. How do you maintain focus in your role?
Focusing on my role as superintendent has not been the easiest. I always begin my day with prayer and devotions so that I can focus on the role that God has called me to do. God has given me the strength and perseverance that I need to do my job.
6. If you fail to plan, you plan to fail. Everyone plans differently. How do you plan for the week, month and years ahead in your role?
I plan ahead in different ways. I utilize my calendar to plan for the week and months ahead. I plan meetings at least one month out. I work on agendas ahead of time so that I can add to them when needed. As a superintendent, I need to plan a year or two out so that the school can be ready for what is ahead. It's important for me to have it on the calendar so that I know what is coming that day or week. It also helps my wife know what I am doing each day or week so that she can plan accordingly.
7. What advice would you give to a young leader who is struggling to delegate effectively?
The advice I would give to a young leader who is struggling to delegate effectively would be to be willing to trust those who directly report to you. Also, have a mentor that you can relate to and trust. Ask your mentor how to delegate effectively.