Thursday, 17 November 2011

Learning Stance or Performance Stance

As a leader, what is your stance?  Learning? Performance? Boss?

As leaders, we can take any of a number of stances.  Historically, leaders assumed more of a 'boss' stance.  That is, they assumed the role of the person in charge and then gave direction to staff in accordance with what they - and more senior levels of their organizations - believed staff needed to do in order to meet the goals of the school/organization.  Thank goodness the days of leaders assuming the boss stance are rapidly becoming memory.  It's a paradigm of leadership that may have worked at one time but it certainly doesn't address the reality's of today's workplace or the needs of the broader community.

Increasingly, we see leaders assuming one of two other stances.  These are the learning stance or the performance stance.  It's pretty evident by the term used that a performance stance is more about how a leader performs.  It's a lot about appearances and being seen to be doing things.  Leaders in a performance stance are always busy and always doing things.  Are they getting things done?  Likely, in some cases.  But it's more by luck than by design. 

As the nature of the workplace changes and the nature of how the public wishes to interact with schools and organizations, we see a different leader stance emerging.  This is the learning stance.  Leaders in a learning stance position themselves less in a hierarchical position and more along a continuum of responsibility where they - along with all members of staff - are engaged in learning while conducting their daily work.  Think about Peter Senge's 'learning organization' or Michael Fullan's statement that "Learning is the work".  Leaders who flatten the hierarchy, position themselves with staff along a continuum of responsibility, and actively co-learn with all colleagues are the new leaders in the current workplace paradigm.  Shared ownership and responsibility for school/organizational outcomes are the order of the day.  Gone are the egos, the performances, the bluff exteriors, and the hierarchy.

What's your stance?  Think about your own leadership.  Does it speak more to being the boss? Performing? Or learning along with colleagues?  Beginning to shift your stance just might help bring about some of the elusive results you are seeking.

1 comment:

  1. Finding just the right the balance between learning and leading creates relationships of trust. I was at Quest today and listened to the experiences of a District in Finland. It really is 'Education at the speed of trust' as one of our SO's noted upon returning from there. They, too, appear to balance learning with leading and not with being 'boss'. You're right - when the hierarchies and its archaic structures that masquerade as supports finally move into history, then education will become revitalized.
    Good to know that this change is wedging itself into our work.