Wednesday, November 9, 2011

School Leadership In Layers: From Buy In to Results

All leaders, including educational leaders, work to get others to follow their lead.  They work to get others to buy in. After reading a post by Lisa Petrilli about getting others to follow your lead and participating in the Twitter  #leadershipchat concerning the same topic, I offer the following observations for educational leaders.

Foundations of Leadership
Any decision to take on a leadership role requires you to develop the foundations from which your leadership is built.  Solid foundations are more likely to support more followers.  Poor foundations may encourage your followers will leave before your "house" comes crashing down (or they get caught in the crash).  I suggest four equally important and interconnected foundations for effective leadership.  These are:
  1. Vision
  2. Beliefs
  3. Mission
  4. Philosophy
These foundations support your decisions and actions.  Your decisions and actions as a leader are the outward examples of your foundations.  The foundations are what we want people to buy into, but just having solid foundations isn't enough.  To nurture followers, your approach to interacting with potential followers is critical.  Well written statements and passionate presentations may get people's attention, but your approach to interacting with potential followers seizes upon that attention and inspires others to share in your foundations.  Your interactions with others will determine whether or not your foundations are worthy of followers.

Therefore, the next layer of work needed to gain followers and achieve buy in is actually a set of qualities that guide how you interact with others.  These qualities are the same ones I wrote about in describing an Open House Culture:
  • Friendly
  • Trustworthy and Reliable
  • Responsive
  • Interactive
Taking an approach that incorporates these qualities will create safe and welcoming conditions for followers to begin "buying in."  Even those who are somewhat skeptical may at least test the water because the relationship being developed is the focus - not necessarily the work to be done.

Finally, after having solid foundations and adopting an "Open House" approach to your interactions, you need to address the final piece.


Effective leaders, ultimately, get results.  They move the school forward.  They elevate the culture and expectations of the community.  They make a positive difference.  They define success in specific terms and are constantly looking out for evidence of that success.

Once found, leaders celebrate success, recognize the efforts of those involved, and reward the risk takers who made a difference.

Nurturing a culture of success (as opposed to a culture of disappointment) motivates followers to seek out their next challenge and apply the foundations they now share towards making a positive difference.
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