Friday, July 19, 2019

How to Tell if your School has a Pronoun Problem

Missions are realized through the actions in the building rather than words plastered on the wall. Visions can become realities, but they can also become nightmares as well. Goals are reached by people who believe in the power of teamwork and are also missed by teams who get cause in traps of selfishness.

We know this to be true, so how can we prevent our organizations from moving backwards?

Dig deeper into the words used in your organization

Actions often follow our words, which are shaped by our thoughts. Many times our thoughts are positively and negatively influenced by those around us as well as by the words our ears consume in the building and our eyes absorb through social media. If you  think about it, those words enter our brains and the negative ones will impact our works if we fail to filter them appropriately. To determine if this is a problem in your school, a key indicator can possibly be revealed in how and when we use our pronouns and possessive pronouns in our daily work.  

Does your School have a Pronoun Problem?

Teams that win use power pronouns. They say:
  • My and I when they own it
  • You and your through the lens of support,
  • We, our and ours when they remind everyone that we’re all on the same team in both good and bad times. 
  • He, She, They, His, Her or Their to identify where both problems and solutions are located,
  • This, that, these, and those to elevate strengths and identify struggles. 
Teams that lose use blame pronouns. They say 
  • My and I only when they succeed 
  • You and your when they fail and need others to blame 
  • We, our and ours only when there’s a team success,
  • He, She, They, His, Her or They to identify where problems are,
  • This, that, those, and these when frustration mounts about kids. 

Which Pronouns are Most Prevalent in your School?
Often times, the pronoun problem is not pronounced among the school as a whole, but there are always pockets of blame pronouns as well as exemplars who always use power pronouns. The job of leaders, both campus and teacher leaders, is to confront and counteract blame pronouns with a reminder of why the team exists, and that problems and frustration can be overcome when the principle pronouns become we, us and our, instead of the divisiveness of mine and yours. Only then will the words positively impact the actions of the organization. 

Friday, July 12, 2019

The Disconnect You Need, So You can Connect to What Matters

In this fast paced world driven by social media, texting, or instant communication, there is an ever growing urge to be "connected".  Finding the latest information, checking your feed, checking your other feed, and then checking your stories can consume us if we're not careful. The dopamine hits increase with every like, love, comment or retweet, and they push us to be evermore connected to the people inside our screens.

There is however an inherent problem that comes with this urge to connect, and that is it disconnects us from the people outside those screens that we stare at.  Each time we connect to one thing, we disconnect from everything else. You have a choice.  Connect with people inside your screen or outside your screen.  The decision can be influenced by this question.  Are you connecting with the most important things in this world most of the time?

Chances are that if you are connected to your device a lot, you're doing that at the cost of connecting with people who matter most to you:  your spouse, your children, your friends, and your colleagues.  So what's most important in your life?   If it's in your device, it might be time to reassess your priorities. 

Better yet, how much of life are you missing because you are so connected?  After all, the purpose of life is to make a significant impact on those we are closest to first, and everyone else second.  D

This summer, disconnect so you can connect to what matters most.

Friday, June 28, 2019

6 Exit Tickets to Improve your Leadership

Exit tickets have been proven to elicit formative assessment data that drives instruction. At the end of a lesson, an exit ticket is a quick check to see which students learned and which students are still struggling. Then the data from yielded from the exit ticket is leveraged to make adjustments to the next day’s lesson.

Well, it makes good sense to employ exit tickets as much as possible to strengthen instruction, so wouldn’t it make even better sense if leaders used exit tickets to strengthen their leadership?  After all leadership is nothing more than teaching folks how to get better at what they do. 

Think about this.
  • We have meetings. Are they getting it?  
  • We have trainings. Did they learn it?
  • We send communication. Do they understand it?

If you answered these questions with “I don’t know”, then the answer for some folks in your organization will be a definite no. To strengthen your leadership, here are 6 strategies to use exit tickets to strengthen your leadership by knowing if your people are with you.

6 Exit Tickets for Leaders
  1. Sticky Note Feedback - Provide sticky notes to your staff and at the end of the meeting or training, have them leave you with information that they don’t understand or need more clarification. 
  2. Hand signs - Quickly poll the group with a thumbs up or down or fist of 5 (rating scale) to gauge their comfort with new information. 
  3. Google Form - This tech tool allows you to get specific information from individuals through ratings or responses. 
  4. Mentimeter - CLICK HERE for a great tech tool that participants can anonymously leave ratings, feedback or questions. 
  5. Plickers - CLICK HERE for a tech-tool in the form of a paper-based QR code that participants can answer multiple choice or true/false questions while you can scan the entire room with your cell phone. 
  6. One & One - Before people leave the meeting, give a note card to participants  and ask them to write down one positive and one question or concern they have from your meeting or training. 

At the end of the day, your leadership is based entirely on how much your followers gain from your influence. You will never truly know your impact until you ask for help from those you serve. Exit tickets are a quick and powerful way to both gauge their knowledge and comfort as well as your effectiveness as a communicator and leader. 

Saturday, June 22, 2019

7 Serves of a Super Leader

Leadership is service. It’s influence. It drives cultural and structural change. If you get down to the heart of leadership, it is the galvanizing force that permanently shapes an organization.

So what is the driving force of leadership?  At the end of the day, it is how the leader serves. Now you may be thinking, “Not every leader serves”.  Well actually every leader does serve. It’s just that some are self-serving, while others are not. Here’s what I mean. 

Weak leaders serve:
  • Themselves first and others if it feels right. 
  • The status quo. 
  • At the cost of customers. 
  • Safety and easiness,
  • Negativity 

Super leaders serve:
  • Others first and themselves last. 
  • A quest for continuous improvement all in an effort to avoid the comfort and stagnation of the status quo. 
  • Customers as if it were an investment in the organization,
  • Innovators and a better way of doing things
  • High expectations and accountability,
  • Optimism to every one,
  • A higher calling. 
Weak leaders serve at the cost of the organization’s future, but super leaders alter the current trajectory of that organization forever. The difference between those two leaders always comes down to one question. 

Are you here to serve yourself or everyone else?

Wednesday, June 12, 2019

7 Escape Routes from the Silo Syndrome

The other day I was driving the beautiful roads of west Texas, and I came upon a row of silos.  During the summertime, silos are busy being filled with the bountiful harvest on their route to the market and eventually into our grocery cart.  If you think about it, silos are the final resting place for once thriving, growing seeds.

Are You in a Silo?
In our work, getting stuck in our very own silo is safe.  It is comfortable, but we must remember that no growth can occur in a silo.  No meaningful iteration of our work can occur simply because we close off our minds and therefore ideas to the possibility of purposeful improvement. 

Silos are vacuums of isolation, pure and simple, and too often, people withdraw to a silo and limit their life from discovering its true purpose.  You were built for something amazing, but you won't find out what it is if you spend your life in a silo.

Escaping the Silo Syndrome
Excellent people make sure that they escape the allure of the silo syndrome, which is the purposeful decision to isolate, withdraw, and avoid learning from others in order to save face.  These people escape their personalized silo in the following ways:

  • learning from others,
  • showing their flaws to others,
  • asking for help,
  • observing,
  • challenging the status quo,
  • fighting for more effective and efficient ways of doing,
  • sharing their excellence with others.
Have you Escaped your Silo?
Safe is easy, but that's not what you were built for.  Silos offer comfort, but it is in the form of novacaine.  Step out of your personal silo.  Stop seeking comfort, and embrace your "uncomfort" zone.  Your work and those you work with will thank you for it.

Friday, May 31, 2019

How to Know If You’re a Leader or a Boss

Are you a leader or a boss?  Immediately the quest to find the answer begins with your own opinion and often never leaves that location.  Do you justify your actions, interactions, and behaviors that convince you that you are not a boss, but a leader.

We all want to believe we are leaders and not bosses. But the reality is this. The answer to this important question can only be found in the people you wish to lead.

Are You a Boss or a Leader?

  • Employees avoid the boss but come to the leader. 
  • Employees are afraid of the boss but unafraid of the leader. 
  • Employees tell the boss only good things about themselves, but they reveal their shortcomings and difficulties to their leader. 
  • Employees cover their butts with the boss but reveal their mistakes to their leader. 
  • Employees flatter the boss but are authentic with the leader 
  • Employees will openly argue with the leader but will never confront the boss. 
  • Employees discuss the cold hard truth with the leader, and avoid it at all costs with their boss. 

As much as you want to be a leader, it will never be completely up to you. The reality is that perceptions of others determine whether not you are a boss or a leader. To some you are their leader, but to others you are their boss.

The main difference between being a boss and a leader is whether or not employees trust you and have confidence in you to protect them and support them. Now let’s be honest. Some people will never see you as anything other than their boss, and there is absolutely nothing you can do about it.

What we must remember is that we must always exhibit strength, high expectations, accountability,  openness, transparency, and willingness to learn from our employees, and in time more employees will change their opinion of you from being their boss into inspiring them as their leader.

Saturday, May 25, 2019

Leadership Lessons from a Graduation Ceremony

Graduation time is here. Caps, gowns, pomp, circumstance, and lots of celebration. The purpose for graduation is commencement, not completion. For graduates the journey is just beginning, not coming to an end.

As I listened to our salutatorian speech as our school’s commencement exercises, I reflected on how leaders can perceive the end of the year. After all, the completion of a school year is more or less a graduation ceremony in and of iteself. Celebration, appreciation, sending everyone off with a smile, and we’re done. 

The fact of the matter is that average leaders view the end of the year through the lens of completion rather than commencement. They look back and think about what to bring forward or better yet resurrect next year. Conversely, the best leaders lead through the lens of commencement. They improve their work for next year by producing data that identifies areas in need of change, actions steps for improvement, training needs to be sought, and decisions to be made to commence the work of making the entire organization leaner and ultimately more effective. But they also identify what worked well to bring back again. 

The best organizational improvement knows no end. It only knows the next beginning and the next steps that must be taken to inspire all to aspire for even better success. Sadly, many graduates reach the pinnacle of their life on graduation day, and as such many leaders will settle for this year’s work as being good enough for next year as well. The best leaders, however, never graduate. They simply move on by moving up and taking others with them. 

Have you graduated or are you commencing?  They answer to that question will not be answered today, but I can promise you that it will be revealed through the results of your organization’s work next year!  

Congratulations to all the graduates out there, and best of luck as you commence into the next chapter of your life. Be sure to make it a good one.