I am lucky enough to be a leader in a forward-thinking and supportive school. Not only that, I am lucky enough to have a team of inspirational digital learning leaders and innovation staff to lead. Throughout my career in Education, I have worked for some inspirational leaders that I have learned a lot from and some who I have learned just as much from who, in my opinion, were poor leaders.
As a leader, I have a lot to learn and I am willing to stand here and admit that. I have learned a lot about leadership and leaders both in the schools I have worked and through my interaction with leaders at schools all over the world as part of the consultation and speaking work I do.
Here are the 14 things I believe GREAT educational leaders should do more:
- Delegate – Micromanaging can negatively affect employee morale. Worse still, it strips your leadership of its efficacy. Delegate things that can be successfully handled by others in your team. Save your own valuable time for tasks that others can’t manage. Empowering your team to lead will be paid back in bucketloads.
- Walk the Walk – As a leader, you will need to walk the walk AND talk the talk. You have to lead by example and expect even more of yourself than of your employees. Don’t just talk the talk – be a role model and walk the walk!
- Get out and about more – Too many leaders that I have worked with stay in their offices and don’t get out to see their team and the students. Be visible and get into classrooms. Be one with the people!
- Be positive – One of the easiest ways to keep your employees happy is by simply recognizing them for a job well done. Recognition is easy and free but will provide a big boost to morale and loyalty. There is nothing better than receiving a tap on the back from your boss no matter how big or small. I also love when leaders publically thank those that have achieved success or gone above and beyond. In the MS team at my school, they have a weekly award at their staff meeting called the ABCD award for a teacher (Above and Beyond the Call of Duty).
- Set clear goals and expectations – As the leader, it is your responsibility to clearly lay out the team’s purpose, direction, and goals. If you fail to do so, don’t be surprised when your employees simply trod along without really accomplishing anything. After all, how can anyone accomplish anything if they don’t know what they’re supposed to do? An argument I have here, however, is the expectation on staff to use their initiative. There is a fine line here.
- Embrace Change – Change happens. Technological change, personnel change, location change – it’s just a part of life. Rather than being afraid of change, you must encourage your employees to adapt and innovate. How do you do this? By embracing change and innovation yourself. If you are still worried, bring people in to help.
- Communicate more effectively – Say what you mean and mean what you say. When communicating with your employees, express your idea as clearly as possible. Also, keep the lines of communication open, and let everyone know that they should ask questions when necessary. Set expectations and protocols that allow your staff to be open and honest.
- Have fun and have a laugh – Allow your team to goof off every once in a while, and plan occasional activities, meetups, and outings. Work should be a place that people want to come to – if you know your people, you will adapt their experience to suit.
- Continue to grow, learn and develop – Invest in yourself and your team. Effective leaders understand that they will never know it all and that leadership is a process of constant learning and growth. Leaders are Learners too. I am an eternal learner and being a leader should not change that. If I expect my team to learn something new, I try to be there learning alongside them. Every day I learn and most of the time it is self-paced and self-driven learning online, a lot of which comes from Twitter. As a leader, I believe it is critical you are not only seen to be an active learner, but you are there to support others along the way.
- Mentor instead of managing – Managers tell people what to do, mentors help people make wise and prosperous decisions. Be there to help, guide and mentor!
- Be innovative and take risks – Great leaders innovate, that’s what sets them apart from the rest. But most great leaders don’t become great all on their own. They become great by studying the lessons of other leaders. Take a lesson from another leader’s success, and incorporate it into your own success strategy. Never just shut down others ideas because they’re not “how we do things here.” Step outside your comfort zone and take a risk!
- Develop a place to share and learn – As a leader, I have developed a space for others in my organization to share their learning (both internally and globally) as well. We use tools like Twitter and our school hashtag (#SAISrocks) to share our learning journey and to be visible learners. It isn’t hard to create a platform for sharing. Don’t reinvent the wheel – use tools that they already use! Be smart!
- Develop Relationships – they matter – I am a people person. I love working in education as it allows me to interact with like-minded professionals every day. It is critical as a leader to earn the trust of your team and develop positive working relationships that thrive. Relationships where trust is at the core. Relationships that last no matter what the challenge. Get to know others, not only as team members but as people. Time spent here goes a long way later.
- Ask WHY – People don’t buy what you do they buy why you do it – I LOVE learning from leaders in their field and Simon Sinek is one of them. He says “People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it” and this is a statement I keep in the forefront of my mind when working with others. Know your why and use ‘why’ to drive learning. If you do this well it empowers others to get involved and you have the momentum to make a successful change.
What would you add to my list? What should leaders do more of?