Wednesday, December 7, 2011

How Many Times...?

School leadership and administration implies an acceptance of responsibility.  Most, if not all, of you probably agree with that.  The challenge is normally not the responsibility, but the frustration that creeps in when you are disappointed over the lack of progress in addressing those responsibilities.  Making matters worse is that in many situations, your leadership/administrative responsibilities are very closely tied to the work of others.

How do you know if frustration is creeping in?  Simple test:  Do you find yourself saying or thinking questions that begin with:

"How many times do I (we) need to...?"

If you are thinking or saying questions like this, you are probably feeling the frustration, and your progress towards fulfilling your responsibilities is likely being delayed by someone else not having their part done on time or at an acceptable level.

This frustration is no secret.  As a matter of fact, it is a big reason why many educators stay away from formal leadership/administrative roles.

So, what is the answer?  How many times do you need to (fill in the blank)?

The answer is very important.  Accept i,t and you have a god chance of maintaining your sanity and  being an effective school leader for years to come.  Reject it, and I predict you will soon burn out and look to vacate your role.

The answer is...

If it truly matters, as many times as it takes.  If it doesn't matter, let it go.

If it matters, try this to ease your frustration.  Normally, any action is better than no action.  So you taking steps to help, may benefit you as much as the other person:
  • Ask the other person to explain their difficulty.
  • Is their part clear?
  • Is it a matter of lack of skill or refusal to do the work?
  • Does the person need training or coaching?
  • What are the roadblock and can you remove them so the work can get done?
  • Is this a temporary situation or is this an on-going problem?
  • Provide examples of others doing their part (a little peer pressure sometimes helps)
If the matter doesn't matter, review the process for addressing the larger responsibility.  You may find that the system for addressing the responsibility can be streamlined or adjusted to help you get it done, while releasing others the burden of an unnecessary task.

Ultimately, what matters is that the work that truly counts gets done well.  Often we get caught up in non-essential functions that take time and energy away from what really deserves our attention.

If you begin to feel the frustration, remember the answer and decide if the underlying issue truly matters.
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