Three Leadership Learnings

Interview Season is coming to a close in my neck of the woods. Despite the anxiety and hard work that goes into preparing to make that impression that, in turn, lands you a job, there is something genuinely refreshing about the process.  We craft our resumes to give strangers a look into our work.  We write our cover letters to answer the question, "Why do I fit in your organization?"  Answering questions in interviews requires, not only a thorough understanding of your own business, but the ability to think and reflect on your feet. And shouldn't we be able to do all this any way? Explain ourselves and our place? Know, think, reflect?

Near the end of a recent interview, really after the bulk of the "tough stuff," I was asked a great, great question.

"In your time in administration, what three lessons have you taken regarding leadership? What three things have you learned?"

Wow. Excellent.

This is what I told the committee:

First, people can do it.  They are capable. Despite resistance of many kinds, we can all change for the better. The catch is understanding what will motivate.  Does talking about improving student achievement motivate? Does talking about the root of the change- state policy, district planning, etc.- motivate? If a leader knows his people, he should be able to motivate for positive change.

Second, we need to be aware of how much progress our constituents have made. And we need to be aware of how much they even know or understand about our initiatives. It may be that the K-8 staff "gets" using data and has been for years because of the state testing program, but the high school on the other hand doesn't. A one-size-fits-all approach at a faculty meeting isn't going to work.  I'm also  mindful that not all stay as wired as I do- they may have heard one thing from the local paper, one thing from the neighbor-educator, and something else entirely from the faculty room. Don't assume that they have the full story just because you do.

Third, climate is often leader-dependent. Simply put, f the principal mopes around during the annual budget development, the faculty worries.  If the principal is positive and optimistic, the faculty brightens up. As leaders, we need to be conscious of the face we show our people.

So, what do you think? How did I do?  What are your three lessons learned from leadership?