Image adapted from Wikimedia Commons file, Jack_Be_Nimble_1_-_WW_Denslow_-_Project_Gutenberg_etext_18546.jpg, Illustration by w:en:William Wallace Denslow from the Project Gutenberg EBook of Denslow's Mother Goose, Original copyright 1902 by William Wallace Denslow From: http://www.gutenberg.org/etext/18546.
School leaders face numerous situations which require decisions. Often,a thoughtful and prudent approach to making decisions works well. However, there are times when the leader needs to be nimble and quick, such as emergencies or taking advantage of sudden opportunities. Knowing when to act quickly and when to proceed with caution is important. Misreading the situation may cause the leader (and the school) to "get burned" by the metaphorical candle.
When quick action is needed, leaders need to call upon a reserve of experiences and knowledge to guide them. In addition, leaders who are rarely "like Jack" may find it difficult to effectively be nimble and quick.
Here are a few ways school leaders can maintain (or develop) their ability to be nimble and quick.
1. Get out of the office and see for yourself how things are operating.
2. Ask questions, especially to those whose work is often affected by your decisions.
3. Stay current. Subscribe to blogs, read newsletters and books, attend conferences, develop a personal learning community.
4. Make a few quick decisions about a few low impact questions.
5. Have a solid default decision making philosophy (i.e. When in doubt, serve the needs of the person in front of you).
Feel free to add to the list in the comments section.