As a leader, do you protect your staff from distracters by serving as a gatekeeper?
As a leader, one of the important roles you play is that of gatekeeper. Every school/organization has an endless number of distracters that can take your staff off course from the core work. When you serve as a gatekeeper, you keep these distracters at bay so that your staff can focus on the important work they do. Some distracters are things that come from outside your school/organization. Others come from higher up in your organization. Others are brought into your organization by members of staff when they get an idea for something that is of interest to them personally. Most disturbing is when the leader himself/herself is the one who brings in the distracters.
As the leader/gatekeeper, it is vital for you to maintain the focus on the work of your school/organization. You need to filter all distracters to determine if they will support the focus of your work or if they will funnel the energy of your staff into busywork that does not contribute to the fundamental purpose of the work.
You need to be able to determine just how important that special field trip is to the learning of your students. You need to be able to sort out which special event - that uses up instructional time – really serves the learning needs of your students. Most importantly, you need to be able to engage in dialogue those who bring forward the distracters to find out how the ‘special event’ serves the core business of your school/organization. Staff may get tired of hearing you ask, “How does this support student learning?” but you need to do it. If you don’t, you aren’t leading. Leaders know how to engage people in conversation to sort through what supports the core work of your school/organization and what doesn’t.