Sunday, October 5, 2014

164th Post - Leading Better by Teaching Again

A good friend lent me (although she may not get it back) the book, "Leaders Eat Last", by Simon Sinek. If it's not on your reading list, consider adding it. It's reinforced, but moreso challenged my ideas of what it really means to pull a team together. This friend knows my desire as a leader is to inspire the people in our building. Do I have the courage to nurture our people to be more of who they are? Do I have the ability to take all their differences and merge them together into team?
"Don't quit. Never give up trying to build the world you can see, even if others can't see it. Listen to your drum and your drum only. It's the one that makes the sweetest sound." Simon Sinek
An easy quote to accept in terms of students? Less easy when trying to unite a staff. Oh those Outliers!
Same, but different? An orchestral arrangement of drum beats.
Conscious Chaos. 
I, like most leaders, have this ongoing internal dialogue: 'What do I need to do to lead well?' My leadership style includes a good dose of reflection. Did my actions today bring freedom when needed, set boundaries as required? Throughout the day did I provide room for someone to tap into their creativity? Did my presence in our building add or take away from community? When the sun set on our building, did our people head home with a heart knowledge that here, at Shortreed, they belong?
Part of my assignment for the 2014-15 school year is teaching. In addition to providing library prep two days of the week, I now teach grade 5 for 32% of the week. It's been about 10 years since I last taught academic subjects in a regular classroom. I'd forgotten how much I love teaching one class for a whole day at a time. One of the payoffs, in addition to building connections with 28 fabulous students, is the reminder of what teachers can and can't do in a day. 
Teachers simply do not have time to check their emails during the day. It took me until noon to grab a minute to check my emails.  There were no less than 52 waiting to be read. Some requiring an immediate response. How often during my admin time do I send email after email to teachers expecting then to respond within the day? For many, that is simply not possible. You bet I'm now looking for a better way to connect. 
We think we've gone paperless, we're saving time by emailing - right? Yet teacher after teacher goes home with a hurriedly printed stack of emails to read through before bed time. 
And speaking of before bedtime reading. If our people are going to be fulfilled at work, they need time away from work...DAILY! If the work/life balance gets skewed enough, people get run down, sick, sad, the list goes on. As important as our work is, it is still a job, albeit an extremely important job. 
Perhaps it's the greying of my hair that hauntingly reminds me of balance. Of priorities. At this stage in life the reverend and I  have no children at home. I indulgently come home to a husband who pampers me. I could devote all my time to work, and no one would notice/suffer.
Wait...did you hear it?...the buzz of the BS button? 
There must be balance. My role as leader includes providing a work environment that fits with a work/life balance, not just for 'our people', but for me as well. 
“Managers do things right, while leaders do the right things”  Warren Bennis 
Doing things right is a given. If you're not, I suspect you won't last long as a manger. So then how do we ensure we're doing the right things?
So back to the basics I go. My 'right things' promote:
  • peace, not problems
  • freedom to create
  • room for autonomy
  • trust
  • belonging
  • knowing, caring, sharing
  • more calm, less snappy
  • joy
I know that in leadership there are times we have to do the hard thing, have difficult conversations. I wonder if those difficult conversations would happen with with less dread in a climate of belonging and inclusiveness. Once again, it comes back to relationship - knowing our people. 
This week, week one of being back in a classroom, reminded me of how much I love being an educator. But bigger than that, it forced me to reflect on how I've been leading. It's a good thing that Better is Possible.
"If the teacher ain't happy, ain't nobody happy" adaptation by me.  


  1. This sounds really wonderful, Carol. Teaching and tam building. I hope both of those go well.

    Blessings and Bear hugs!

  2. Thanks Rob. We'll see how things turn out. How are you? Getting ready for another winter? We've been having beautiful weather here on the coast.