Dear Me Don’t Worry, Be Happy
Parent waiting at the reception for one to one meeting, a substitute teacher who is unable to handle the class, a team meeting to be chaired within the next 15 mins, lunch time is already over, a student got hurt while playing in the field, an expected high profile visitor has already reached the campus” – welcome to the world of a school leader.
School leaders have a tough operational job which is all about balancing priorities. A typical school day is mentally and often emotionally draining for the school administrators. A clear outcome of that is that most of their time gets spent in the first qudrant of “The Eisenhower Matrix”, the urgent – important quadrant.
Let’s take a look at another set of scenarios. A teacher, who was doing very well as an individual contributor, messed up a new across the school inclusion initiative that was close to the Principal’s heart. Nobody knows what went wrong; the Principal gave complete freedom to her for the initiative. Another senior-school teacher, who had been in the school for 15+ years was hand-holded personally by the Principal on a new academic senior school initiative. However, 1 month into the implementation, she quit citing personal reasons. There were speculations in the school over her disagreement with the Principal on the ways of working but again no one really knows what went wrong. If we look at it objectively, two great resources, who had all the right credentials, failed miserably in something new that was assigned to them.
How could have the Principal handled it better. Could the “Situational Leadership” model have helped her?*https://toughnickel.com/business/What-is-the-Situational-Leadership-Theory
Maybe the first teacher under discussion needed a lot of “Coaching” since she was in S2-D2 segment. She needed a lot of direction and may not be great at handling inclusion specifically. The other teacher under discussion possibly was an S4-D4 but was handled with a S2 approach leading to her resignation. A lof of times school leaders end up judging a person, a teacher and generalize both positive and negative thoughts about them. However, what’s really important is being able to dissociate the situation and the individual. This is one of the key pillars of situational leadership model which mentions that we all may be at various levels of development depending upon the task at hand and the level of commitment and therefore need different directive behaviours depending upon the situation. Maybe the first teacher under discussion needed a lot of “Coaching” since she was in S2-D2 segment. She needed a lot of direction and may not be great at handling inclusion specifically. The other teacher under discussion possibly was an S4-D4 but was handled with a S2 approach leading to her resignation. A lof of times school leaders end up judging a person, a teacher and generalize both positive and negative thoughts about them. However, what’s really important is being able to dissociate the situation and the individual. This is one of the key pillars of situational leadership model which mentions that we all may be at various levels of development depending upon the task at hand and the level of commitment and therefore need different directive behaviours depending upon the situation.
Imagine the hundreds of transactions like this that take place in a school on any given day. Be it interactions between the top leadership and the middle managers, or between the middle managers and the foot soldiers (the teachers) or between the leader of the class (the teachers) and students or their parents. Now throw into the mix the constant churn across the school leadership, teachers and students leading to a highly dynamic environment. Therefore, a school can’t get success by just the quality of the teaching-learning, the academic performance or student placements. What differentiates a great school from a good school is the ability to systematically handle these interactions to generate the best possible outcome for the school. Basically, avoiding sub-optimal decision making.
The reason I mentioned these examples was to bring out the importance of “Leadership Training and development in schools”. The idea should be extended to the students at school as well but my note today keeps that out of the mix for now.
School administrators are often assumed to know it all as they are experienced individuals. However, just like in any other field, there is a constant need to train and re-train the leadership team. I would refer back to the cliched “sharpening of the sword” adage here. So how should a school design the professional development plan of their top and middle leadership for taking care of their leadership needs. Here are some pointers: –
|•||Management identified programs – When the management or leadership goes through the annual performance review process, the areas of development should be identified for each leader especially when it comes to leadership. Basis that, they should be provided training on their specific need to make them better leaders.|
|•||Leader identified programs – Every leader has a role model and very often, there is an underlying urge to become like them. The leaders should be given an opportunity to identify and invest the areas of leadership that they think will make them better leaders.|
|•||Providing exposure – Exposure is one of the key elements of leadership development. It prevents the “frog in the well” mindset from setting in and inspires people as well. Both national and international exposure should be a part of the professional development plan for each leader. The right exposure can be truly transformational for many.|
|•||Provide comprehensive training – Leadership theories themselves evolve over time and it is a good idea to train the team on leadership with a first principle approach to get a fresh perspective on things. For example, something which is very commonly talked about in schools is “leadership approaches in handling millennial parents”. The whole team should be trained in leadership models from time to time.|
|•||Leadership coach – Last but not the least is finding a one-to-one mentor or coach for the school leader. While this is a common practice across many industries, its not so common in schools yet. Senior leaders are often lonely at the top and often find comfort and tangible outcomes with a coach.|
What may look like a significant investment actually delivers the desired results very quickly. Not only does investment in leadership development lead to better leadership alignment but also makes the school a happy place for the students, teachers and parents.
After all, that’s what we all want. Don’t we?
Director – Schools for Little Millennium Education Pvt. Ltd