Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Up to Your Neck in Alligators

In yesterday’s blog on leadership style of successful school leaders, I shared a wonderful commentary from a practicing school administrator from Kentucky. As we are further examining the qualities and the framework for schools leaders I thought I would share another inspirational guide by Rick Lash, Director of Hay Group’s Leadership and Talent Practice in Canada.
Using the interesting comparison with the cave drawings of Chauvet and Lascaux, he portrays a model for leadership that focuses on very basic beliefs and understandings.
“• Know yourself: The tree that survives the strongest winds has the deepest roots. What are the qualities that characterize you personally as a leader? What values most define you? What are your non-negotiables? What deeply energizes you and motivates you to action? What is your purpose? Answering these questions may provide you with some profound insights into who you are – your self-image – and will help you build a compelling vision that others will recognize and feel in themselves.

 Know your role: When we love what we do, our role is perfectly aligned with our self-image. Who we are and what we do are one and the same. The truth is some leaders don’t see themselves as leaders even though the job title says they are. To create stronger alignment, leaders first need to build a deeper understanding of their role. Get multiple perspectives on what others expect from you. What does your staff want from you? What about your boss and your customers? Finally, look for ways that you can incorporate more elements of your self-image into your role. It will help you feel more alive, motivated and inspired. 

 Change your context and relationships: Hang out more with the people who can see the leader in you. Other people’s image of you can inspire you to greatness, but it can also hold you back. Choose your role models carefully and surround yourself with people who will show you the leader you can become.[1]
Everyone involved in school leadership confronts ambiguity, especially when dealing with the cultural habits of educating children. Unless you have a thorough background in “chaos management” nothing truly prepares a young administrator for the issues and concerns that may crop up in a typical day. We often ask new candidates for administrative positions how they hold their heads above water when they are up to their necks with alligators?
Unless a school leader is grounded in core beliefs that serve as the foundation of their work ethic, they will flounder and be unable to do the important work of school leadership that is supporting the education of children. Adhering to a belief system is necessary and serves as a model for others in a leader’s school to keep the ambiguity of issues under control.
What are your values and core beliefs?

[1] R. Lash. (2011, July 11). Timely Guidance from 25,000 years ago[guest post]. Retrieved July 12, 2011 from http://www.greatleadershipbydan.com/2011/07/timely-guidance-from-25000-years-ago.html.

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