Episode 8: The Culture & Language of Leadership: A Conversation with Debbie Callihan-Dingle

Having experienced another language, another culture, another way of life really opens doors and opens your eyes. We all may be different in many ways, but really people are people no matter where you are. The outside part might look different, because that’s the culture part, but the inside part is going to look just the same, because we’re all people.

In Episode 8, we can see clearly how my guest, Debbie Callihan-Dingle, has been providing quiet, collegial, effective educational leadership in the USA for years. I invited her to be a podcast guest because she demonstrates that, in challenging times such as we find ourselves right now, leadership is about skill, insight, patience, clarity, focus, and kindness.

There are many aspects I’ve meditated on in Debbie’s quote, above, that are about language and culture as human phenomena in general. But it also struck me that effective leadership can more fully be understood by looking at it through the lens of language and culture.

An effective leader is embedded in a culture — a school, business, organization — and has experienced more than one language: the language of the novice group member who can feel lost and alone in the vocabulary and practices of a profession; the language of the intermediate-level staff member who, having learned how to stay alive in the profession, may be in a position to grow but not necessarily know the steps to get there; the language of the veteran employee who demonstrates advanced skills and who really can be trained to contribute in a collaborative and leadership position.

Effective leadership, that is, is about proficiency, and providing modeling, pathways, and practice to those under one’s charge so that they may develop their leadership proficiency, also.

Yes, leadership is about skill, insight, patience, clarity, focus, and kindness. We in the world language education community are blessed to call Debbie Callihan-Dingle our own. But our podcast conversation will demonstrate to you, no matter your own personal formal or informal link to language and culture education, how powerful leadership comes from knowledge of how humans express themselves and are connected to community.

Listen to this episode to learn about the culture and language of leadership in challenging times, so that you can reflect on the leadership you see around you and on your own leadership in your own “culture.” And, as you will see in Debbie’s bio, she invites all of us listening to take a simple leadership step: find five people to thank.

So, come, meet Debbie Callihan-Dingle, yes, but also think about those you know who have taken up leadership positions: How proficient are they in the language needed to support and grow those whom they lead? How well do they understand the community culture of the group? What is your leadership proficiency?

Interested in learning more about proficiency, and its application for students and teachers? Looking to learn more about and/or apply Gallup Strengths in your team or organization? Check out the Services tab to see how I can be of help to you.


Click to listen:

It’s About Language – Episode 8 – :Landuage Education Leadership: A Conversation with Debbie Callahan-Dingle

Listen with captions:

Episode 08 – Language Education Leadership: A Conversation with Debbie Callahan-Dingle – Audiogram with Captions

You can also find this week’s episode on Spotify, Google Podcasts, Apple Podcasts, LinkedIn, and Twitter. Or subscribe to Fluency Online on YouTube.

Want to hear more? Access previous episodes, and get to know the wonderful people I talk with through the It’s About Language page, or by clicking on the Podcast tab above.

You can also connect with me for presentations and workshops. Also connect with me for presentations on what language proficiency is, how we grow it, measure it, and apply it effectively in life and work. Educators, organizations, and businesses will all find these topics highly relevant and practical.

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