The Egyptians Have Spoken…Lessons in Leadership

anti-morsinbspdemonstrators-chant-slogans-during-a-massive-protest-in-alexandria-egypt-on-june-30Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed people can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. –Margaret Meade

As America celebrates its independence, today Egypt proudly celebrates its freedom from the oppressive regime of the Muslim Brotherhood and its elected president, Mohamed Morsi.  


On June 30, 2013 the largest numbers of peaceful protests in human history took place throughout the cities and villages of Egypt. Millions of Egyptian men, women and children from all walks of life took to the streets of Egypt in rebellion to Morsi’s failing government which lasted only a year. The Egyptians for the first time democratically elected a president to lead their country in the hope that he would provide job opportunities and improve living standards. However, Morsi’s poor leadership and lack of vision for the country’s future increased tension and aggravation among the Egyptians who resorted to demanding that the president step down. The rebellion movement called “Tamarod” which means rebellion was initiated and implemented by a group of young, patriotic Egyptians who were successful in gathering more than 22 million signed forms calling for the resignation of president Morsi. It took a small group of young people to inspire millions of Egyptians to defy all odds and fearlessly speak up for their rights and indeed achieve success. Today, I’m proud to be an Egyptian!

While I was glued to the television to keep abreast of events through the Egyptian satellite channels, I could not help but think of the reality of our education system today. As I analyze the turbulent situation in Egypt, I cannot help but align what has been happening in Egypt with our current education policies and the tenets of effective educational leadership. I will highlight some of the relevant comparisons and the important lessons that I have perceived from this historical event. 

The Necessity of Having a Shared Vision:

Having a compelling vision for a better future is instrumental in the achievement of success. What led to the fall of the new Egyptian government is that the president failed to develop a shared vision among his people.  Evidently, push back and chaos escalated as people continued to ask, “Where is Egypt heading?” When the people decided to take charge of their future and create a shared vision, they were able to work together to achieve their goals. Their vision for a bright future spurred the strategies they used to oust the president and to collaborate in changing the vision to reality. A collective view of the future empowers people to work for a common goal and move forward. 

Honesty is Key:

A leader must be honest with his followers. The Egyptian president quickly lost credibility because he made promises and failed to keep them. People cannot follow a leader they do not trust.

A Leader Must be Attuned to His People:

An effective leader must strive to develop positive relationships with his people. He must listen to and meet the needs of his people. Again, the Egyptian president was distant from his people.  He was more concerned with power and control and failed to involve his people in the decisions that impact their future. An effective leader is a servant to his people. He is willing to collaborate with others and he is willing to go above and beyond to meet the needs of those he leads. 

A Leader is a Skilled Communicator:

Communication is key to effective leadership. Great leaders must be competent communicators who are able to share important information with their constituents. The Egyptian president was not a skilled communicator and he lacked the charisma to inspire hope and perseverance in his people. In addition, he did not share necessary information with the people and kept them in the dark. An effective leader must be an excellent communicator and he must keep his people informed.

In Unity There is Strength:

In unifying their voices and speaking up for their rights the Egyptian people were able to succeed in defeating their oppressive government for the second time and demanding that their needs be met.  Similarly, as educators we have the power to promote changes in the education sector by voicing our opinions and speaking up against unreasonable mandates.  We have the power to bring about positive change to state and federal education policy.  If enough educators and school leaders speak up and let their voices be heard we can promote policies that effectively meet the needs of children and teachers.

Effective leaders are servant leaders.

The Egyptian Revolution proved that effective leadership is dependent on the ability of the leader to establish positive relationships among all people. Effective leaders are servant leaders. They serve the needs of the people. In similarity, as effective educators and educational leaders we serve the children in our care and we are willing to do whatever it takes to help them succeed. Let’s heed the lessons learned from the Egyptian people and others around the world who courageously speak up for what is right and in fact succeed in promoting change. 

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