Friday, 30 September 2011

How do you bring coherence?

As a leader, how do you bring coherence to the work of your school/organization?  There are few things that reduce effectiveness in the workplace more than a staff that doesn't see the connections among the various initiatives in which they are engaged.  When staff members feel that they are engaged in multiple 'important' initiatives but they don't see how each fits together and serves the greater purpose of their work, they can become cynical, jaded, or simply lost.  When people understand how all the work in which they take part fits together to serve the greater goals of the school/organization, they understand the value of their hour-to-hour, day-to-day, week-to-week work.  It's a minor investment in time - and a small investment in a well conceived discussion process - to provide everyone with the understanding they need to see how their work is important and fits into the bigger picture.  You run the risk of losing people's hard work and commitment when they feel pulled in many directions and don't see coherence in their work.

Thursday, 29 September 2011

Are you avoiding Critical Conversations?

Are you having - or avoiding - critical conversations?  As a leader, each of us needs to engage in critical conversations.  Critical conversations are those that can help to bring about change in your school or organization.  Often, these conversations are avoided for fear of upsetting good working relationships. As a result, the important learning or changes in behaviour that are necessary for improvement, simply don't occur because we, as leaders, didn't have the necessary conversations. 

Think of a recent situation when it would have been wise to have a conversation about something that concerned you.....but you didn't speak with the person.  If you had the conversation, what change might have occurred?  Might it have been beneficial for your school/organization?  Frequent, short, focused conversations about critical issues can help avoid serious issues or conflicts in the future.  Such conversations take courage and a lot of skill to raise the issue and leave the recipient's integrity intact.  However, as a leader, you were appointed to your role in order to bring about improvements.  Part of this work is having critical conversations.  Commit to having them.  Next time, if you're tempted to avoid the conversation, remind yourself of your commitment to have the conversations, your role as leader, and the potential damage that could be done if you don't have the conversation. 

Wednesday, 28 September 2011

Who has the answers?

Leaders in all organizations - schools and others - ask questions about how things can be done better.  We wonder about how we can get better results or achieve our goals when it seems we face decreasing resources.  Sometimes the decreasing resources are financial.  Sometimes they are material.  And sometimes these resources are human - right through to our strength of will and endurance.  As with all leaders, there is a tendency to look outside the organization for answers - or for a silver bullet.  Well, there are no silver bullets......but there are answers......and the answers are already in the building.  As we begin to see our staff, our leaders - indeed, each other - as human resources who hold knowledge, experience, and wisdom - we will discover that the answers to our most challenging questions are available to us if we allow our shared wisdom to guide us.  It doesn't mean that the journey will be easy, fast, or that it will work well the first time or even second time....but the answers are there.  We just need to trust that they are and believe in each other.  Forget the silver bullets!

Tuesday, 27 September 2011

Your Values

What are your values as a leader?  Every leader has both personal and professional values.  As a leader, how are your values made evident in your school/organization and - more significantly - through the work that you do?  Do your staff and the students you serve know your values?  Do they know what what's truly important to you in terms of the work you do?  If not, you are losing a great opportunity for organizational growth.  If they do know your values, how might this benefit the work of your school/organization? 

Friday, 23 September 2011

How do you keep the focus?

As a leader of a school, it is your responsibility to support your teachers in keeping the focus on student achievement and high-quality instruction.  How do you do it?  How do you support teachers to maintain this focus and protect them from distractors or events that might take their focus away from their core work?  This is an essential role for a leader - to support and protect teachers so that they can do the essential work of ensuring every child is successful.

Wednesday, 21 September 2011

What did you learn today?

As a leader, what did you learn today?  Michael Fullan tells us that "Learning is the work".  If this is the case, what did you learn today that improves your practice or makes you a better leader?  If you haven't got an answer for this question today, you may want to think about this tomorrow.  What are you learning through the leadership work that you are doing?