A simple google search will yield many a list of “principal must do’s or how to’s “. While I can’t speak to mastering many of them, what I can do is give my “16-17” to do better list…these are compiled from many conversations with my friends, my edupeeps, my staff, my parents…voices that have a vested interested in my leadership style and the sustainable success of our campus. (Note I said our, not my…:))
Some of these are learned through missteps, some are gleaned through successes. I’ll let you discern which is which.
Be the leader who listens.
Talk less, listen more. You don’t have to have all the answers, in fact, it’s probably better if you don’t. Through conversation and seeking to understand, you can develop an answer or solution together. Let them feel listened to, as if their concerns/problems are as important to you as they are to them. Coming back with your perspective or your solution can be seen as defensive. Process…slow down and have the grace to say, “thank you, let me think on that, and get back to you.”
Be the leader who shares…but share just enough.
I may write a book called “The Fallacy of Transparent Leadership”. Todd Whitaker and I have discussed this at length…you want your leader to be transparent, but you don’t want to hear it ALL, nor is there even that need. Be selective in what you share…make sure that they are getting the taste of what you’re sharing, but not sick to their stomach because it was just. to. much.
Be the leader who has it together.
Hey, guess what? You’re the boss. YOU ARE THE BOSS. You are the one everyone else is looking to set the tone, have the plan, and guide the conversations. While you don’t have to KNOW the answers, you better be the one asking the questions. And if you don’t? See below.
Be the leader who admits when they are wrong.
It is ok to say that you don’t know, or that you made a mistake, or that you could have handled something better. #thefirstyear was full of learning opportunities. I am blessed with a staff that let me say that I was sorry and understood that I was still learning. I can’t even begin to tell you how humbling it is to have to admit daily that you could do it better. Luckily, I get to have a year 2 to make that happen!
Be the leader who sets the thermostat.
A thermometer takes the temperature of the room. A thermostat sets the temperature. You are the person. THE PERSON. Encouragement means more when it comes from you. Advice means more when it comes from you. Evaluative comments? Mean more coming from you. Use that power for good. From the office staff to the janitor…you are the one who sets the temperature. While you 100% can have a bad day, you don’t have the luxury of showing your stress, your anger, your own drama, when you are trying to lead. If you panic, they will panic. If you are stressed, they will be stressed.
Be the leader who recognizes that your position precedes your person.
It takes time…a LOT OF TIME…for people to get to know you. More than even an entire school year. Value that. Everyone KNOWS you’re the principal. There’s never a reason to say that you are, 🙂 no one is going to forget that the principal/leader said something out loud or walked into the room. In fact, saying it ACTUALLY diminishes your effectiveness. When you ask for an opinion or their thoughts…know that they are measuring their answer because you’re the principal. This was a very powerful realization for me…one that I do not take lightly now with each and every conversation I have with my people. (all my people!)
There you have it…the summary of my notes and reflections, the cumulative results of #thefirstyear. I am SO excited for year 2, just as much for what I have learned, plus the anticipation of what is still yet to BE learned!
always aspiring to be better,