Tuesday, July 12, 2011

A New Take on Some Old Leadership Advice

art of ed favicon (2) One of my most offered pieces of advice is:

Identify your strengths, recognize your challenges, use your strengths to address your challenges.

The art of leadership, given this concept, is to remember that our espoused strengths and challenges may not actually align with what the people in your organization, or school, see as your strengths and challenges.  In a further twist, how others view our strengths and challenges is greatly a result of their own strengths and challenges.

For example, many teachers are perfectly capable, comfortable, and effective with less detailed instructions from their administrators.  For these teachers, a leader who is less specific about HOW to do things and more focused on WHERE the school needs to go.  Teachers in the, “Just tell me what to do and I’ll do it.” camp are going to be somewhat frustrated with a leader who is not inclined to “hold their hands.”

So, does this mean that leaders need to always be aware of how their teams are reacting and perceiving the leader’s strengths and challenges?  Yes, it does.  Therefore, leaders must be willing and able to make the effort to incorporate their team’s evaluations into the leader’s professional development.  This is more than having an open door policy and listening.  It involves taking proactive means to gather this information.  There are any number of surveys and questionnaires to send out, but one way that I like (which has worked very well) is to simply ask this question…and ask it often.

What can I do to support your efforts more effectively?

Ask this question and listen to the entire answer.  Take notes.  Then follow up.

You may affirm your self-view or you may discover something new about your leadership effectiveness.

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