This past week I have been meeting with different leaders on my leadership team. In our second year of building our campus leadership team and a campus PLC philosophy, we have noticed that we are experiencing much faster growth in a positive direction. Rapid individual growth coupled by extending abilities into new directions have led each leader to new and unique places in their leadership. They are identifying innovative ways of doing things that are benefiting kids and teachers, and this is extremely exciting to watch.
The problem that we currently face is that each leader is encountering different challenges, and there's not enough time to get to all of the recently implemented improvements as well as the old and productive tasks. The best analogy that I can make is that each leader represents a plant that has too many limbs as a result of their initial amazing growth. If this plant is able to grow stronger and taller, the gardener (leader) must be willing to prune unnecessary foliage so that the plant will continue to grow and thrive. Take a look at this YouTube video about how this gardener makes decisions when pruning bushes and plants.
Pruning your Plants
Before the gardener begins to prune the plant, he must know what the plant will look like if it is going to develop in its second year. In other words he must visualize what the tree or plant will look like next year as a result of purposeful pruning. Once he has a vision for what he wants the plant to look like, he then can make important decisions on which limbs will help the plant reach its maximum potential and which limbs are inhibiting growth. Branches that are close to structures or are overlapping one another must be eliminated. Cutting away the "sucker" branches is critical.
The same goes with leadership. Each leader must know which skills or which tasks are overlapping one another and thus are no longer useful. Old ways of doing things that were once successful may no longer be needed to help the leader lead his team. Those actions, too, must be eliminated. Tasks that were once meant to help teachers and students have become ingrained in the organization and no longer need you. Removing these actions and simplifying behaviors helps make the leader a stronger, more productive and more fruitful plant. In pruning the unnecessary branches from the plant of leadership, the leader is able to guide their leadership toward future growth which makes the leader a much healthier leader.
The last consideration to make before pruning a leadership task is can the team or organization sustain this action without leadership? If the answer is yes, remove it. If the answer is no, the leader must take purposeful steps to make the action sustainable by the team and then make plans to remove himself from the task once the team is capable of taking ownership.
Which actions, behaviors or processes do you need to prune from your leadership and what ideas do you have about pruning them?