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Are They Acting On Your Priorities?

DSC00328I 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?

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3 Moves for Moving from SMART Goals to Intentional Results

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA“Management is efficiency in climbing the ladder of success; leadership determines whether the ladder is leaning against the right wall.”

(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.

  1. 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.
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A Mirror for Leadership Blind Spots

INFJ KiseA 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…”

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Avoiding Educator “Summer Slide”

The Perfect Place for Professional Development in the Summer? Your Own Favorite Spot!
The Perfect Place for Professional Development in the Summer? Your Own Favorite Spot!

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.

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