How do your strengths get in the way of coaching and mentoring those around you? Leaders who easily see the best course of action in complex situations may “tell” rather than giving an employee enough time to reason it through…
I’ve been writing about how effort and perseverance without capacity and readiness simply aren’t enough. (Check out my past posts on grit and effort.) They’re all interdependent. Ignore either side and you simply won’t get where you want to go.…
In a previous post, I wrote about “satisficing”—putting in just the right amount of effort. Whether you’re hearing, “These employees simply need to do more with less” or “We need to teach students to have grit”, the implication is that…
According to The McKinsey Quarterly a large percentage of leadership development programs fail because no plans are made to measure whether the participants are growing as leaders, leading to little accountability for acting on what is learned. Some companies fail…
Cognitive blind spots present a significant roadblock to the full realization of individual human potential. There are many kinds of blind spots, including those that are common to all humans such as the Bandwagon Effect, where individuals become attracted to popular trends,…
I recently heard of a school district with five hundred initiatives underway right now. They’re proud of it–they’re reaching out to students at risk for dropping out, targeting STEM enrichment, working on literacy, increasing coaching capacity, and so on.
The problem? No change effort can be focused in 500 different directions. Right now, things are falling by the wayside–and the district leadership probably doesn’t know what is and isn’t being done. Somewhere down in the ranks, people are deciding, whether consciously or unconsciously, what they will actually accomplish.
It may be what seems most urgent to them. Or what best fits their current skills. Or what is easiest. Or what the person above them is screaming for.
Chances are, though, it isn’t what the leaders at the top consider most important. Why?
How does a coach measure effectiveness? At the extremes, one can say, “You can’t. The coachee assesses whether he or she is benefiting from your interactions.” Or, “You can. Together we set SMART goals which by definition are measurable.” The…
(Covey, The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, p. 101)
How about substituting “SMART goals” for management and “being intentional” for leadership in the above quote? Why?
Too often, a goal is SMART (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Time-bound) but still not the right goal. If you’re setting goals for yourself, or if you’re coaching others, here are three key questions that aid in ensuring that goals intentionally target what is most important, not what your or your client might assume is most important.
- Is this the right goal right now? Leadership is situational. While there are core competencies all leaders need, different ones are more important in some situations than in others. Unfortunately, those new to leadership—or to a given role—may be unaware of priorities they’ve never needed to attend to in the past.
A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away (or so it seems), I took on a volunteer leadership role in a rather large organization. Given the issues we were facing, and my own strengths, one of my key priorities was to stay friends with the leaders of all of our different constituencies.
This was not a wishy-washy “let’s be kind” sort of goal, but rather an acknowledgment that certain market trends and changes in how we were allowed to conduct business meant that partnerships, mutual support, and flow of information were vital to our future. I’m good at collaboration and building trust, but with those strengths–especially if I overuse them–comes an inherent blind spot. I tend to assume everyone is on the same team, working toward the same goals.
“You could say that being politically savvy is not one of my key strengths. Considering potential competing motivations of other players isn’t generally on my radar screen.”
SO…in that leadership role, I very intentionally sought out two politically savvy members of the board and told them, “Call me when I’m being too trusting. Tell me to my face when I forget to ask, ‘What’s in it for them?'” And they did. Very effectively. Thanks, Chuck and Ray–you know who you are!!
Fast forward to my being in a very informal leadership role. As always, I considered what the right priorities would be for the situation. Again, relationships were key, and I though I had the relationships in place that allowed for working toward mutual goals.
“I forgot that I still had the same blind spots…”
We all know about the “summer slide,” the fact that many children’s reading and math skills slip back over the months they are not in school. But what about the adults in your school community? What about you? Was your school year so draining that you are thinking a 10-week break from any thought of lessons or students or whiteboards might be your best plan for the summer? Are you feeling duty-bound to read certain recommended books or articles on pedagogy? Is summer when you pursue your own content-related passions? Or, are you still wincing from falling short of the goals you set for last summer?
Rather than have summer resemble the guilt of failed New Year’s Resolutions, consider how you might use the research on motivation to recharge your batteries and be ready to reboot your classroom in the fall with new enthusiasm. In Drive: The Surprising Truth about What Motivates Us, Daniel Pink lays out three important factors.