The Art Of Making Tough Decisions

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Reposted from Forbes:

The toughest decisions I have ever made were in combat as a Navy SEAL. And those who have served know that the impact of those decisions can last a lifetime. Unfortunately, making tough decisions amidst chaos takes practice. In the past, I had a tendency to avoid conflict, put off making difficult decisions and even sugarcoat reality. Those behaviors are of little use when holding a position of leadership.

My experiences in the military have helped me formulate a better perspective on decision-making. But it is never easy. My “wisdom” as a leader has primarily come from getting feedback from a great team, persistence, and learning from failure. And my training is never complete.

Now, I make a rigorous effort to face the tough decisions head on, before they become even larger obstacles. Here are some tips for being a more decisive leader. These go for leaders at all levels, not just at the top…

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Sustaining Outdated Practices Does Not Transform Education

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Reposted from A Principal’s Reflections:

During the early years as a high school principal I worked terribly hard to sustain practices that had been ingrained into the school learning culture. These practices looked good when viewed on the outside as they sustained the status quo, maintained control, and ensured the enforcement of rules/policies with the end result being an efficient educational system.  The resulting culture focused squarely on the metrics that my stakeholders held dear. So in the end my leadership was defined by maintaining a building driven by standardized test scores and how well students were able to conform to the system that I was brainwashed into sustaining. Luckily for me I was diverted along a different path thanks to an epiphany provided by social media.

Upon reflection many years later, I have realized that my efforts created a stagnant school culture that was not appreciated in the least bit by the most important stakeholder group I was responsible for – my students.  If that was not bad enough, I also kept other stakeholders in the dark in regards to the innovative work that was taking place each and every day in my school as I relied on traditional methods of communication.

The evolution of technology has and continues to invoke fear in the eyes and minds of many types of school leaders tasked with transforming school cultures.  The fears, perceptions, and misconceptions that drive many leaders to maintain the status quo only work to perpetuate a growing disconnect that students experience with learning today. Conversely so other stakeholders remain in the dark in a time when leaders must be proactive with public relations to combat the negative rhetoric prevalent across the globe when it comes to education.

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Social Capital: Who We Are Together And How We Work

LnL

Reposted from Learning & Leading:

“Social capital is highly dependent upon nurturing trust at all levels of the organization. Trust doesn’t happen overnight and needs to be cultivated. While trust needs time to develop, it has to be developed with intentionality. Hargreaves put it best when he said, “Trust doesn’t come from micromanagement or leaving people alone. It comes from engaging with people about their work.” This engagement has to be intentional, thoughtfully planned, and monitored by all involved.

Each of us experience roadblocks to enhancing social capital within our teams.  In my current professional life, the size of the organization is a challenge.  The elementary school where I proudly serve as principal has nearly 140 staff members serving over 1,000 students.  In an international setting, we experience a lot of staff attrition.  Any time a new staff member joins, the whole dynamic of the team changes.

By team, I really mean teams – grade level teams, curricular teams, and the entire elementary school team.  Of course, time is a challenge.  How do you create opportunities to build trust at grade levels, between grade levels, horizontally and vertically?  How do you work to establish a culture of trust that, regardless of staff movement, permeates the building so that anyone who enters feels that trust is high, honored, revered, respected, and cultivated?  How do you help newcomers realize that trust is not just earned, but it’s given and supported?  How do you help everyone within the organization understand that levels of trust are constantly changing and that the only way to get trust moving in the right direction is to be vulnerable about practice and to communicate openly and professionally?”

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