Tag: leadership

Strong Practices for Leaders in Catholicism

To be considered a leader within the Catholic faith, one does not have to necessarily become a priest, nun, or deacon. Simply spreading the word of the Lord and embracing your Catholic roots to better the world around you can have a highly positive impact, and can help you develop the leadership qualities you didn’t know you had.

To define leadership, this a principle among those who are able to positively influence their surroundings, whether through service themselves or the service of others. The key to strong leadership is being able to focus on others rather than yourself. That being said, the following practices are just a few ways to grow your Catholic leadership abilities.

Disciplined Prayer Schedule

Maintaining a consistent prayer schedule and making time to do so is crucial to develop leadership skills within the faith. One who understands the value of devoting time to prayer and connecting with God is one who will be able to effectively guide others just as the Lord guides us.

Have a Clear Mission

Just as Jesus did himself, having a clear mission and knowing what you want to focus your efforts on is crucial. From Luke 4:18 – “He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” Catholic leaders must be willing to help others and show them the value of a life connected to God.

Practice Humility

Treating others as you would like to be treated is not a new concept. However, acting in a leadership position can easily stroke the ego of someone with little experience as a leader, thus potentially leading to arrogance or a sense of entitlement. A strong leader sees him or herself as nothing more than a servant of God. Remain disciplined, but confident.

Promote Catholic Culture

To lead those within the Catholic faith, and even those outside of it, you must study, understand, believe, and confidently defend the core principles and general beliefs of Catholicism. To have faith is to have wisdom, and to teach others this with confidence is one of the best ways to spread that. 

Leadership Coaching, Catholic Schools and 4 Strategies To Make It More Impactful

Currently, Catholic Schools are operating in an era where the level of competition is very high. For a private school to remain competitive, it has to implement important strategies that will help overcome competition, or to at least remain competitive enough. One of these strategies is leadership coaching, where the leader impacts his or her workers by teaching them the instructional and classroom management skills, student/parent relationship skills and the knowledge to perform their jobs well.

While many have questioned the effectiveness of leadership coaching I remain steadfast that the single factor between a school which is thriving and one which is struggling is leadership. It is for that reason that I remain committed to providing Catholic school leaders, Principals, Presidents  and Superintendents with timely and consistent leadership coaching and mentoring. Here are some strategies that can be used to make leadership coaching effective.

  1. Being Specific

One of the most important aspects of leadership coaching is specificity. As a leader, you must ensure that whatever is being told to all employees (teachers and staff) working within the school is precise and exact. A leader should not leave his or her employees in the dark or worse, confused as to what is being asked of them. Demonstrating and modeling behaviors should also be incorporated so that employees may get a visual representation of the task, making it much clearer.

  1. Provide Positive Feedback

A common mistake among a large number of leaders is concentrating on and criticizing individual flaws and weaknesses. Some have been misunderstanding elements of personal styles and confusing them for a lack of personal motivation. To enhance the effectiveness of leadership coaching, one should provide positive feedback on individual strengths. Leaders should also be cognizant of how they are describing what they want an individual to achieve, such as the desired outcomes and deliverables.

  1. Being Concise

Using too many words to describe something that could have been described with just a few can lead to ineffective coaching as well. While in a leadership position, one should make it a point to be brief and concise when providing instructions to followers. A leader should focus on being direct while at the same time providing clear, easy-to-understand instructions. Doing so will promote memorability and understanding of what it is these employees must do, lessening the chances of frequent mistakes.

  1. Establishing Trust and Goodwill

For leaders to effectively promote and enhance their coaching abilities, establishing goodwill and trust is of paramount importance. Leaders must be humble and should not assume superiority or come off as self-entitled. They should focus on being sources of assistance and leading by example. They should focus on their duties while at the same time demonstrating high levels of integrity. Other employees are likely to trust and believe in their leader if he or she demonstrates the ability to successfully manage large teams, absorb chaos and give back calm while guiding staff throughout all obstacles presented.

NCEA Honors Associate Superintendent for Leadership Formation

Originally posted on CNY.org

COURTESY NCEA

COURTESY NCEA

NCEA Board Chair Bishop Gerald Kicanas, far left; honoree Steven Virgadamo, associate superintendent for leadership formation for the archdiocese; Msgr. John F. Meyers, the namesake of Virgadamo’s award; and NCEA President/CEO Dr. Thomas Burnford smile broadly after Virgadamo was recognized at an awards banquet April 2 at the National Catholic Educational Convention & Expo in Cincinnati.

Steven Virgadamo, associate superintendent for leadership formation of the archdiocese, received the Msgr. John F. Meyers Award from the National Catholic Educational Association at the organization’s convention last week in Cincinnati.

He was one of five recipients from across the country recognized April 2 with The President’s Awards that are given in the names of past NCEA presidents to honorees who model the characteristics that advance the mission of Catholic education.

The Msgr. John F. Meyers Award is presented to an individual “who has provided substantial support for Catholic education through contributions in the areas of development, public relations, scholarship programs, financial management or government relations.”

Steven Virgadamo, who also serves as executive director of the Curran Catholic School Leadership Academy of the archdiocese, said he remains “humbled and honored” by the award.

“All I ever set out to do was to serve Him well, and to make sure that young people had opportunities to encounter the Risen Christ in our schools, and use the gifts that they have been given, by their actions and words in life, to spread the Good News of the Gospel message.”

Throughout his career in Catholic education, the NCEA calculated that, in a consulting capacity across the country, Virgadamo has worked in 120 dioceses in 6,000 Catholic schools and, as a result, was responsible for the formation of 10 board members in each school, or 60,000 lay leaders in boards of schools. He helped those 6,000 schools raise more than $500 million in new funding through philanthropic giving, ensuring those schools’ futures are secure through strategic planning, improved governance organization and effective marketing.

“The one thing I noticed in the 6,000 Catholic schools,” Virgadamo said, “is that the single biggest difference between a school that was able to not just survive, but flourish, was the leader in that school.

“I say that, knowing that a third of the Catholic schools in the country right now have a wait list. The one ingredient that those Catholic schools that have a wait list have, clearly, is a very strong leader in that school.”

Steven Virgadamo said part of the reason he came to the archdiocese four years ago at the invitation of Dr. Timothy McNiff, superintendent of schools, “was to work in forming a generation of new leaders for Catholic schools because if this legacy is going to continue, it’s going to be dependent on who we have leading those schools.”

He said he was fortunate to be in a generation that was formed by men and women religious, and wants to pay that forward and continue to form the leaders who are going to be able to “rewrite this script for Catholic schools.”

In accepting his award, Virgadamo acknowledged his mother and late father who nurtured him in the Catholic faith and made the decision to send him to a Catholic school.

“That decision,” he quipped, “really was a precursor to my future because in elementary school, I spent so much time in the principal’s office that by the time I graduated from elementary school and they handed me that diploma, I had the equivalent of a master’s in school administration.” In that vein, he credits the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur who taught him “how to run a successful school.”

The award, he said, also goes to all those who formed him personally in the field, particularly through their mentoring, guidance and formation from an educational or pedagogical perspective as well as spiritual formation.

Born in Brooklyn, he attended Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal School, Ridgewood, and Christ the King High School, Middle Village, both in Queens.

Before coming to the Archdiocese of New York, he worked for four years as director of the University of Notre Dame’s Alliance for Catholic Education, in leadership formation both on campus and throughout the country. He cited the good example of the Congregation of Holy Cross Fathers and Brothers there and when he was dean of student life at Holy Cross High School in Flushing, Queens, where he began his career in Catholic education.

Steven Virgadamo said his favorite Gospel message is the Tranfiguration, and it is there that he made a parallel to his work in his remarks at the awards dinner.

“This is a lifetime achievement award. There’s still a lot more work to be done. So let’s all of us get back down that hill. And my call to the people at the dinner was, let’s begin to identify, recruit and form this next generation of lay leaders.”

Catholic Schools are both good for America and the Catholic Church

catholic-usAfter 30 plus years of working with Catholic schools throughout the United States I have an understanding and appreciation of the long history of support by the Catholic faithful for the  Catholic education for young people.

On average, American Catholics have had about eight years of education in Catholic schools. Half have attended a Catholic elementary school, about three in 10 have attended a Catholic high school, and just over one in 10 have attended a Catholic college or university.  The evidence suggests that the total number of years of education in Catholic schools is positively correlated with achieving a higher level of education and thus also achieving a higher household income.

In general, the strongest effects of Catholic education among those who attended Catholic schools, particularly as they affect measures of attachment to the church. According to the research available, those who attended a Catholic school are more likely than those who did not to attend mass and engage in parish life.

Catholic schooling pays off in a number of ways for the Church and our country in that attending a Catholic school  leads to a higher level educational attainment and  subsequently a higher household income. In addition, Catholics who attended a Catholic high school appear to have a stronger attachment to the church on some measures. They are somewhat more satisfied with the church as it exists today and more accepting of some of the measures many dioceses are adopting to address the shortage of priests.

Thank you for viewing!

Steve Virgadamo