Wednesday, February 20, 2013

2 Ways PLCs Battle through the Storm

Teams struggle.  Ideas conflict.  Beliefs sway.  Feelings get hurt.  Without accountability, teams slowly fracture to a point where kids are no longer the focus.  When teams battle and can't find their way, they must have something that brings them back together.

Leaders miss the point when they see their role as the referee during conflict.  No one is right and no one is wrong because the problem is the team and its interactions.  Each person on the team plays a part in the frustration.  With each action and reaction, every member of the team is wrong.  For the members that said nothing and did nothing, they, too, are responsible.

Here are 2 Tools that Great Teams use to hold themselves accountable.

1.  Mission

Our mission was defined by every member of the campus, and we described why our school exists.  When teams aren't performing, it is because they have forgotten why the campus exists and what part they play in fulfilling that moral purpose.  Our campus mission is simple:  One Exceptional Team + One Exceptional Goal = One's Exceptional Future.  There is no better way for teams to redirect their own behaviors than to ask the following questions:
  • Am I being exceptional in my efforts to make our team exceptional?
  • Am I focused on our team's exceptional goal or my own personal interests?
  • Is our teamwork exceptional to the point that it leads all kids to their exceptional future?


2. Vision

The vision was written by the campus because we committed to where we want our campus to be in the future.  In that we designed specific components that must be visibly present on the campus when our vision becomes a reality.  When teams battle, they must compare their current reality to their desired outcome.  If a gap exists between where they are and where they want to be, teams must recommit to the vision.  Here are some questions that teams can ask as they resolve differences.
  • Where can we improve to be a more disciplined team?
  • What issues are preventing us from working together as a team?
  • How can we embrace the uncertainty of natural inquiry so that we can promote a safe learning environment for all team members?
  • What steps must we take to ensure that every member feels essential?


Battling through the Storm

Teams are like sailors on a ship in a vicious storm.  The only way that they can survive is that they must depend on their vessel and on one another.  The vessel is their mission, and the vision is their voyage.  Sailors can weather the storm if and only if they rely daily on the vessel and commit to their moral obligation to direct the ship to its destination.

What ways does your team battle through the storm?


  1. I like the opening, "Teams struggle. Ideas conflict. Beliefs sway. Feelings get hurt. Without accountability, teams slowly fracture to a point where kids are no longer the focus." I have attended over 20 Rick and Becky DuFour sessions. I think people often walk away with an image of team meetings. The first time a team member or entire team have a meltdown, the team struggles with direction and focus.

    Lencioni (2007) wrote, "Like it or not, all teams are potentially dysfunctional. This is inevitable because they are made up of fallible, imperfect human beings."

    I wrote about teams at:

  2. John wrote:

    The vessel is their mission, and the vision is their voyage. Sailors can weather the storm if and only if they rely daily on the vessel and commit to their moral obligation to direct the ship to its destination.

    - - - - - -

    Another great metaphor, John!

    You and David are like the masters at this kind of stuff and it's helpful. Metaphors make difficult concepts approachable.

    Thanks for sharing this,

  3. Bill & Steven,

    Thank you both for the feedback. I enjoy sharing my discoveries through this blog. Leaders spend so much time redirecting the ship when all they need to do is direct them to their collective commitments. They'll know what to do then. Again thanks for your friendship and support. Have a blessed day.john

  4. It's important for a team to be cohesive and work to do what it takes to help a child to be successful and support doesn't end with classroom teachers but administration too. I Am a 9th grade team lead