Where I at

20 Aug

Well this is where I am at!

It’d be nice to really be able to define my place in the grand scheme of things at a point in time – like today.  More often than not I feel fluid – in some vague space between MANAGING what I do and wanting to LEAD towards why we do what we do.

After being inspired by Simon Sinek’s TED talk “How Great Leaders Inspire Action”, and seeking out direction by scanning thru the myriad of advice on the web, I am inspired by Mary Jo Asmus’ similie for leadership – while driving (or teaching others to drive) the vehicle of change in our school.

 

THE NOW

Winning Hearts and Minds

 

(confronting)

REALITY

Where are we at in relation to Leadership, Change and Student Outcomes?

Tension? Levers? Barriers?

 

 VISION

What do I really want?

EMPOWERMENT to MOTIVATE CHANGE.

Why? Why? Why?

 

Leadership – All of us.  The Why.

Management – My responsibility related to governance. The What.

 

Driving from the passenger side

By Mary Jo Asmus on August 15th, 2012 |

One of the most harrowing times in the life of a parent is that period when their children learn to drive a car. If you’ve had teenage children who have learned this skill, you might know what it feels like to relinquish control. When they are practicing driving, you sit next to them as they take the steering wheel and brakes; they are in control and you are there to offer (hopefully calm) guidance and advice.

Being a leader has a lot in common with the parent helping their teen to learn driving skills. Leadership is a hands-off activity that allows your team to take control of the daily work while you guide and coach from the passenger seat. It can sometimes be hard to respectfully refrain from trying to grab the steering wheel or putting the brakes on.

For many leaders who are accustomed to being in control in their lives and at work, the leadership ride can be harrowing, too. Letting go and allowing your team to take the steering wheel is not always comfortable. There will be mistakes made, but if you learn to pay attention without meddling while providing a light touch in guiding them, it can also be one of the most rewarding experiences you’ll have.

As a leader, you’ll be most successful when you don’t try to drive for others. Learning to sit in the passenger seat isn’t easy, but it can be a great ride when you:

Trust them. How do you know if your staff is capable if you don’t trust them to do the things they were hired to do? Trust that they are, and your advantage is that they will trust you back. If the level of work you give them has a mix of things that meet or exceed what they are capable of, chances are that you’ll be glad you allowed them to drive.

Lead with clarity. Be clear about your expectations and outcomes. Go ahead and tell them why you are requesting that they do the work you’re delegating. Make sure these initial conversations are two-way so that you can be assured that they understand what you are asking them to do. They will be most successful when you clearly dialog with them about the work they need to do.

Are available. Especially when your team members are learning new things, make sure that they know when you are available to talk through their dilemmas. Perhaps you might want to set up meetings with them more frequently than you have, or make sure you put time into your schedule to check in with them to ask if they have questions or need assistance without falling into the trap of solving all the problems for them.

Coach them along the way. You still need to be informed of the work your staff is doing, but you should do your best to refrain from telling them how to do it. And unless they ask for instruction or they are getting into trouble, lay off on the advice-giving and problem-solving. Instead, gently guide them with questions that help them to figure out the best way to proceed: “What’s your next step?” “How will you begin?” and “What do you need from me?” are great questions to ask.

Encourage, thank, celebrate. These are the seemingly small things (to you) that are big things to your staff and the success of your organization. When they are on the right track, encourage them to go further. Thank them for what they do well. Celebrate success so that everyone can see great examples of work well done.

Leading from the passenger side isn’t easy, but when done well, it can be a rewarding experience for a leader to watch employees develop, learn their own ways of getting things done, and become an example for others.

 

Determining our vision……….

What do we want to achieve?

After we test and reshape your big-picture vision, you should develop the details. You need to give people some specifics as to what your big picture will mean on a day-to-day level. You also have to tell people what steps you will take to get there, i.e., develop a plan.  People may think your big picture is a meaningless mirage if you don’t give them some ideas as to how you think things will actually change.

You don’t have to have all the answers, but you need to have some ideas. What has to happen to get there? Write up some tentative ideas for how to get things done. The better your plan for reaching your vision, the more likely people will take you seriously and be willing to follow your lead.

Once you have some confidence that your vision is sound, begin to put it out as a way to gather support for your leadership and what you and your organization want to accomplish. Use your vision as a way to inspire people to act.

Help people take ownership of a vision

As a leader, you have to help people take your vision and make it their own. This is an important step in bringing people together to work toward a common goal. Members of a group need to have a shared vision and a sense of ownership in order to be committed to the group. That is key in helping people stay with a group for the long haul.

People don’t need to agree with all the details of your vision in order to follow your lead. They will have different ideas about how to put a vision to use. That is fine and healthy. But in order to work together, people need to share an overall vision and some basic goals.

To help people take your vision and make it their own, you need to talk and listen. You shouldn’t talk too much. You should mostly listen to people’s thinking. If you really sit back and listen to people, they will tell you what is most important to them.

It may take people a long time to get to the point of telling you what is really important to them. They may have to tell you first about their children or a crummy experience they had with a politician. However, if you can listen long enough, people will tell you their thinking about how things should change.

A balancing act: Meet people where they are and challenge them at the same time

At times people may not be ready to hear your vision of how things can be. Some people may disagree. Some may have so much of their attention taken by surviving day-to-day that it is difficult for them to listen to how things can be better. Also, people sometimes feel mistrustful, hopeless, discouraged, and cynical. Some people depend on a narrow picture of the world in order to feel secure.

Communicating a vision to people through that obstacle course can be tough. You often have to meet people where they are in order to establish some trust. As we talked about earlier, listening is an important tool in doing that.

But you also have to communicate the parts of your vision that people can relate to. They may not be ready to think about an overall plan for transforming the school. However, they may be able to think about doing something about the reading in the classroom. If so, talk about reading. Talk to people “where they’re at.” Speak to their conditions and their personal needs. This will help you build some trusting relationships. Later you can do more.

On the other hand, it is sometimes important to say things that people are not quite ready to hear. People need to think about new ideas over a period of time before they can make sense of them. New ideas are important to introduce, even if they engender initial resistance. Often the strongest and most important ideas meet with resistance.

A leader has to lead. And the most important aspect of leadership is winning over the thinking of people to a vision of what things can be like.

This can take time. You may need to be gentle, but also persistent.

Be courageous

In order to create and communicate a vision, you must be courageous. People who communicate a vision of what things should be like are often the people who are courageous enough to state what is obviously wrong and unjust. It can be difficult to say out loud that the prince has no clothes. However, once you say it, people will see that it is true.

If, for example, you see some clear problems in your school, be courageous and start talking about them to others. Ask people how they think things should be. You may find that you have more in common with people than you had thought.

You should also be prepared for people to attack you for what you are trying to do. Ideas that lead to fundamental changes are frightening to people. People may actively campaign against you. Often, these campaigns can get quite personal. People may try to make your personal problems or shortcomings the issue, rather than the issue you are trying to put forward.

If this happens, gather your close friends and allies around you. Together, come up with a plan to handle the attack and direct the discussion back to the real issues. Don’t try to handle an attack by yourself. When an attack is being directed at you, you will need the perspective of friends. It will help if you can anticipate and plan for such attacks before they happen, but sometimes that is not possible.

 

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