Friday, April 12, 2013

The Irrepressible Mole - Leadership Short of Awesome

Ok, I wish I were in this kind of shape.
"What the heck is in my way?" It's a question I've been asking myself almost constantly over the last year as I strive for awesome leadership and find myself falling short. What's success for me?
Absolutely awesome commitment and investment by folks I support to achieve organizational objectives they are responsible for.
But then, I have to stop and ask myself, am I demonstrating absolutely awesome commitment and investment? Who am I to judge?

 What is getting in the way of ensuring awesome teaching, learning and leading possibilities for the people I serve? Is there anything to that 212 degree book?
People muddle along trying to improve, not knowing how close they are to being truly excellent and achieving breakthrough, but they are at 211 degrees. Often they don’t realize that 212 degrees, and massive state change, is just around the corner. If they would push just a little bit more, they would achieve true excellence.The implication being that these people who came in second were on the very brink of excellence, but they didn’t give that last one degree to get there. Read more on this idea.
That blog entry makes a lot of sense. When I look around, I ask myself, "Why aren't we doing awesome things? Why am I not able to empower myself and/or others to do more awesomeness?"
The answer is disappointing. Maybe, I don't want "it" bad enough.

Are you up to digging deeper? Is school reform destined to fail because, frankly, staff don't want to dig any deeper? After all, it's exhausting work.

Are you an irrepressible mole willing to dig deeper?
Or, pick one of these:

For a very short time, I thought, wow, maybe it's the other guy. Maybe, it's the other guy's fault that we're not doing absolutely awesome. Then, I spent some time thinking, what if they're awesome but I'm in their way, stopping them from being awesome?

I don't think it's either. It's probably both of us or neither. Maybe they're waiting for permission to be awesome, and I'm low on sleep and energy reserves.

I love Peter Senge's observation that once you get too successful, the system plays whac-a-mole with you (actually, he said something like the system pushes back but I'd rather be the ever-present, irrepressible mole, wouldn't you?). Maybe, we're being held back by some invisible organizational crab pincer that's dragging us back down into the bucket.

Maybe, it's a poorly defined vision of awesome that's making it hard to be successful. What the heck IS awesome in using technology in a K-12 environment? Is it what some are doing with iPads? Chromebooks? Instructional activities that students are truly engaged with?

So, I don't know the answer. I'm clueless and it's driving me crazy. Maybe, I need to do more research and do more book studies with the teams I am a part of.

Maybe, I'm a terrible conversationalist. I can't engage others well enough in conversation that results in change. Somehow, whatever comes out of my mouth confuses the heck out of everyone else, and they don't have a clue what I'm talking about. We end up fighting about stuff we agree with, and agreeing to disagree on the rest. How does that work for you?

Ok, enough of them out of my system, for now.

That's why, when I sat in a campus leadership meeting today, and a colleague shared this diagram, Factors for Sustained Institutionalization of Schoolwide Initiatives (ain't that a mouthful), I realized how far off I was about it all.

Seeing a diagram like this is like getting a roadmap to how things should be. It makes me want to rip our current initiatives apart, and then put them back together with this framework in mind. Maybe, these boxes boil down to critical questions:

  1. Vision - Why do we want to accomplish that and what will it look like?
  2. School Improvement Plan - How are we going to get there, who's going to be responsible, how are we going to evaluate success.
  3. Skills - This is the easiest. What do we need to know to get it done?
  4. Resources - What is available to help the job(s) get done?
  5. Motivators - What needs are being met and how do these align with our why?
  6. Fidelity of Program Implementation - Are we doing what we said we'd do or have we deviated?
  7. Sustained Implementation - Are we prepared to stay the course?
This puts a whole different perspective on trying to get things done. Take a look around your learning 7 your lucky number or are you struggling with the consequences of less than seven?

Maybe playing whac-a-mole is fun, but I'd like to get some experience with a successful mole take over!

Everything posted on Miguel Guhlin's blogs/wikis are his personal opinion and do not necessarily represent the views of his employer(s) or its clients. Read Full Disclosure

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