Teach & Serve IV, No. 24 | Hard to Recapture…

Teach & Serve IV, No. 24

Hard to Recapture…

January 16, 2019

I would like to suggest that arrogance and good leadership are… incompatible. They… don’t mix

When a leader stops doing the good and hard work, the respect of the community can (and usually does) drop precipitously. The respect of those being led, once lost, is very, very hard to get back. Once a leader has seceded leadership by ceasing to perform the functions of good leadership, effective leadership is almost impossible to recapture. Therefore, a leader must be very aware of and solicitous to the functions of the work of leadership.

The reasons a leader may stop fulfilling the responsibilities of her or his leadership are many. And the reasons do matter. For example, if a leader has issues in her or his personal life that are impacting performance and shares those, as appropriate, with the school community she or he serves, those communities are, typically, very forgiving and understanding. If the leader is confronted by professional circumstance that limits effectiveness and, likewise, can be honest and open about both the pressures and how they will be overcome, a community can understand that and determine its response.

If, however, and this is more common than we might want to acknowledge, a leader is simply tired or has lost interest or feels some functions of leadership simply are not as important to him or her, not as critical, then problems arise. Faculty and staff notice these shifts. They know when things are being done differently or not being done at all. They may confront the leader about them. They may not. Either way, the damage is done, and the damage can be very hard to come back from for the leader.

Effective leaders understand that, once their leadership starts to wane, it is quite difficult to recapture. The difficult (and, ultimately, highly rewarding) work of leadership is constant. Excellent leaders embrace the privilege it is to serve.

 

Teach & Serve IV, No. 24 | Hard to Recapture…

Teach & Serve IV, No. 24

Hard to Recapture…

January 16, 2019

Effective leaders understand that, once their leadership starts to wane, it is quite difficult to recapture.

When a leader, for whatever reason, stops doing the good and hard work, the respect of the community can (and usually does) drop precipitously. Once a leader has seceded leadership by ceasing to perform the functions of good leadership, effective leadership is almost impossible to recapture.  The respect of those being led, once lost, is very, very hard to get back. Therefore, a leader must be very aware of and solicitous to the functions of the work of leadership.

The reasons a leader may stop fulfilling the responsibilities of her or his leadership are many. And the reasons do matter. For example, if a leader has issues in her or his personal life that are impacting performance and shares those, as appropriate, with the school community she or he serves, those communities are, typically, very forgiving and understanding. If the leader is confronted by professional circumstance that limits effectiveness and, likewise, can be honest and open about both the pressures and how they will be overcome, a community can understand that and determine its response. But this is not always the case. Often leaders simply stop leading.

This is more common than we might want to acknowledge. Often, when a leader is simply tired or has lost interest or feels some functions of leadership simply are not as important to him or her, perhaps not as critical as they may once have been, she or he begins to cross things off the list of good leadership. He or she starts to let things go. Perhaps the thought is no one will notice. Perhaps the thought it the school can run itself. Perhaps the thought is all the good work done before this point will carry the institution forward on momentum alone.

Perhaps. But I doubt it.

In a school, faculty and staff notice these shifts. They know when things are being done differently or not being done at all. They may confront the leader about them. They may not. Either way, the damage is done, and the damage can be very hard to come back from for the leader.

Effective leaders understand that, once their leadership starts to wane, it is quite difficult to recapture. The difficult (and, ultimately, highly rewarding) work of leadership is constant. Excellent leaders embrace the privilege it is to serve.

 

EduQuote of the Week | 1.14.19

Make a difference, change the game for the better, leave a legacy, be a guide that someone else can follow and make better, and then someone else will follow that and make that better.

Carlos Wallace

A Journal of the First Year | Eleven

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(L) 1994      (R) 2018


It is my intention to share some reflections on the highs, the lows, the excitement, the routine, the successes, the failures and everything in between which I experience the course of the next 10 – 12 months, my first months as a full-time principal of a high school.  Writing this journal will help me grow. Reading it may make you laugh…  


10 | January | 2019


This past Sunday evening marked the last day of Christmas Break.

I had plans – significant plans – going into the Break. Beyond all that is associated with Christmas, the rituals of shopping and church and family and friends that I love, I had a few other goals. With the downtime from the day-to-day activities, I was going to work ahead on a few projects. I was going to finish editing the draft of a novel I completed earlier this year. I was going to do some around the house stuff.

Good plans.

I didn’t get to all of them. In fact, I didn’t get to many of them.

And so I found myself, on Sunday night a few hours after the “bedtime” I had set as a goal organizing my t-shirt drawer.

True story.

As I turned off the light Sunday night, I tossed and turned as the dawn of the first day of school 2019 approached. I couldn’t sleep. As I lay there in the dark, I wondered worried that I wasn’t more excited and energized about going back to school. Haven’t I loved the job? (I have) Didn’t I love the place? (I love it) Didn’t I enjoy my co-workers (I enjoy them immensely)

As I returned to school Monday and the faculty and staff filtered in for a day of professional development and meetings, the energy came rushing back like cool, clear water. The enthusiasm returned. The excitement for the work.

My feelings Sunday night were not about not loving Mullen High School and the students and faculty and staff there; they were about me loving home and time I got to spend with my wife and my children. And my feelings of excitement and feeling, in just over six months, at home, at school are not about me not loving being at home home.

One of the things I’ve tried to keep in the forefront of my mind in this first year as principal is wellness and the blending of my personal and professional lives. I’ve tried to enable the staff and faculty here to consider what is a healthy approach to wellness in their lives.

I think that is what I was feeling Sunday night and what I felt Monday morning. I was going to be missing the downtime and embrace of home, sure, but that loss was mitigated by the enjoyment of the work I am lucky enough to do.

It’s a blend and it’s a blessing.

And I am so happy to be back!

Teach & Serve IV, No. 23 | Arrogance and Leadership

Teach & Serve IV, No. 23

Arrogance and Leadership

January 9, 2019

I would like to suggest that arrogance and good leadership are incompatible. They simply do not mix

The old adage “oil and water don’t mix” is demonstrably true. Head into your kitchen. Find some oil. Put the oil in some water. See what happens. Go ahead. I will wait.

See? What did I tell you?

Oil and water don’t mix. True. Got it.

I would like to suggest that arrogance and good leadership are, likewise, incompatible. They, too, do not mix.

Let us not confuse arrogance and confidence. Confidence is an important quality for a good leader. Good leaders possess confidence. Often the confidence of a good leader comes from experience, a record of good decision making and an understanding of what it means to serve a community. Confidence in effective leaders is founded. It is earned.

Arrogance is another story.

Leaders who are arrogant, who believe theirs is the only voice in the room which carries significant weight, are likely to run into problems. Arrogant leaders do not listen well. Good communication is not their default position and why should it be when they already believe they know what is best in most situations? They are less likely to compromise, to collaborate, to empower. Arrogant leaders believe they are the most critical piece in the school. They believe they have to have a hand in every decision and must be consulted and cow-towed to in every circumstance.

Arrogant leaders rarely succeed over the long term. They may have initial success, especially in schools that may need clarity established around procedures and rules and directions, but their arrogance typically hamstrings them sooner rather than later.

Arrogance and leadership do not mix.

Add it to your list of adages that make sense.

EduQuote of the Week | 1.7.19

The affects you will have on your students are infinite and currently unknown; you will possibly shape the way they proceed in their careers, the way they will vote, the way they will behave as partners and spouses, the way they will raise their kids.

Donna Quesada

Teach & Serve IV, No. 22 | Got to Begin Again – The Fresh Start Effect

Teach & Serve IV, No. 22

Got to Begin Again – The Fresh Start Effect

January 2, 2019

We have this opportunity – this fresh start. We can be mindful of it and all it suggests and all it could mean. We can embrace it with positivity and make it the beginning of something powerful and new.

In the approach to this school year, I wrote about Temporal Landmarks, a concept I first discovered upon reading Daniel H. Pink’s When: The Scientific Secrets of Perfect Timing which I highly recommend. As we in the academic game see the end of Christmas Break coming and the resumption of the school year on the horizon, it is a very good time to analyze another point from Pink’s book: the Fresh Start Effect.

In his analysis of when people do things and when they have the most success doing them, Pink discovered that when we do things matters just as much as what we do. As we in education know, there are many, many whens. Pink recommends being conscious of the phenomenon of fresh starts. “Some days stand out,” he writes “when we want to open up a new ledger on ourselves and use them to construct better beginnings.”

Could there be a better lens through which to view the end of our holidays and the start of the next months of companionship with our colleagues and students?

I do not think so.

Let us begin this next part of our year opening the pages of a new ledger. We can do this. We can begin again and not just because the calendar forces us.

But because we want to.

We have this opportunity – this fresh start. We can be mindful of it and all it suggests and all it could mean. We can embrace it with positivity and make it the beginning of something powerful and new. What happened before break, happened. We cannot change it. We cannot go back and re-write it. Most of it was good and life affirming for us and our students. Those parts that were not are in the past. Let us move on from them and let them go.

Let us make a fresh start.

Let us begin again.

EduQuote of the Week | 12.31.18

Take a leap of faith and begin this wondrous new year by believing. Believe in yourself. And believe that there is a loving Source – a Sower of Dreams – just waiting to be asked to help you make your dreams come true.

Sarah Ban Breathnach

Teach & Serve IV, No. 21 | In Review…

For this last edition of 2019, here is the school year rundown of blogs, the Year in Review as it were… perhaps you missed something you may wish to review.