The 2017-2018 school year is over. How were your results? I don’t just mean how were the school you lead’s results on the End of Grade tests. How were your results based on the Key Results Areas (KRA’s) that determine your overall success and the success of the organization you lead? How were your results on the school’s North Carolina Teacher Working Conditions Survey compared to two years ago? Are the school improvement initiatives you worked hard to embed working? Are you growing in your ability to lead, communicate and execute?
Your results don’t lie. My mentor Paul Martinelli teaches, Your results are the unattached and unemotional evidences of what you know, what you think you know, and what you don’t know.” Your results are your best work, displayed for all to see, critique and compare against.
If your results were not what you desired, more than likely it is because of these three things are not where they need to be to achieve the results you desire.
Your Best Thinking
James Allen said in his book, As a Man Thinketh, “A man is literally what he thinks.” We don’t get what we want; we get who we are. One cannot achieve great results with average thinking. Allen goes on to say, “A successful leader is a master of thought, a molder of character, and a creator of conditions, culture, and destiny. Until thought is linked to purpose, there is no intelligent accomplishment.”
How are you exercising your mind?
As a garden needs weeding, so does the mind. Good thoughts bear good results; bad thoughts permeate bad results, and your environment shapes these thoughts. “Men are anxious to improve their circumstances but are unwilling to improve themselves; therefore they remain bound,” James Allen. Are you reading great books? Listening to Podcasts? Developing a set of questions to ask a mentor or coach? What are you doing to get better personally and professionally?
How and when do you think best?
The world’s most successful people have one thing in common: they think differently from everyone else. Here are few suggestions:
Schedule Think Time: Chick-fil-A CEO Dan Cathy sets aside a half day every two weeks, a whole day every month, and two or three full days every year to think through challenges, strategies and vision.
Follow the 80/20 rule: Eighty percent of your problems come from twenty percent of your issues. Also, eighty percent of your production comes from twenty percent of your work. Narrow your thinking focus and problem solving to the twenty percent.
Join a Mastermind Group: A Mastermind Group is a self-selected group of smart people who meet weekly, monthly, or daily even if it makes sense, to tackle challenges and problems together. They lean on each other, give advice, share connections and do business with each other when appropriate. The book studies we lead or our charter school principal’s consortium are a great examples.
Try Different Things: Momentum is critical when it comes to leadership. If you are feeling stuck with your thinking take a walk, ride your bike, listen to music, or read a book. You only need to think of the NEXT step. Once you got it, step into action and build momentum.
Choose Wisely: Be sure that you continue to learn and expose your mind to great thought leaders. Do not seek advice from those less successful than you. Before you ask someone what they think, make sure they do!
The People you Surround Yourself With
Jim Rohn discovered, “You are the average of the five people that you spend the most time with.” I have found this true throughout my personal and professional life. I’ve found that I must be willing to move out of my comfort zone because when I don’t, I find myself at the head of the class, and that’s when I know I need a new class.
In terms of the workplace, as a leader, you are responsible for hiring the most talented and values-based people you can find. Recently I came across the Peter Principle, a concept in management developed by Laurence J. Peter, which observes that people in a hierarchy tend to rise to their “level of incompetence”. In other words, an employee is promoted based on his success in previous jobs until he reaches a level at which he is no longer competent, as skills in one job do not necessarily translate to another. In my 18 years in education, this is more than a principle. It is a fact. For example, over the last year, the trend in our charter schools has been to promote the best teacher into a role as instructional coach or dean. However, just because someone is an effective teacher, does not mean that she will make an effective coach or dean. If she is not skilled nor equipped to execute this role at the highest level, confusion and frustration sets in for not only the individual in the position, but also for those she serves.
The Choices You Make
You are the sum of your choices. If you are unhappy with any area of your life and will be completely honest with yourself, you will find that at some level, you made a choice that has caused this. If I feel that I am overweight or unhealthy, that is a fundamental choice that I make for my life. To be healthy, I need to exercise and watch what I eat. Nonetheless, I don’t want to do that everyday. Therefore, my health results are a product of the choices that I make.
As a leader of an organization, your day is filled with decisions. Every decision that you make is preceded by a choice. If we decide contrary to the desire of our choice, we end up unhappy and unfulfilled. Doing nothing is a choice. The thing you didn’t say, the project you didn’t launch, the hand you didn’t lend to a team member or colleague.
Being an effective leader is a choice. Here is an example. If you are slammed with urgent “to do” items but also want to get into a classroom to provide a teacher feedback, you have a decision to make. That decision is preceded by the choice. Do I choose to be compliant with my “to do” list or do I choose to provide a teacher feedback? Most principals I know choose their “to do” list because they judge it as the most urgent and important. Some may choose to visit the classroom and then work late. The most effective school leaders have already chosen to be proactive and empower their people, so they can delegate their “to do” lists to members of the team to ensure they provide the necessary feedback to that teacher.
If you want better results, you need to create good thoughts and link them to purposeful action. Good thoughts and purposeful action will never produce bad results. Conversely, bad thoughts and actions will never lead to positive results.
Any day we wish, we can discipline ourselves to change it all. What day will that be for you?
If you want to change your results you can never stop being a student. If you finished reading this blog, you probably fit in that category. Beginning in August, we will be launching multiple school improvement initiatives and training sessions for you focused on school culture, time management and coaching for leaders to choose from. Learn more about these programs by clicking here or set up a complimentary 1:1 thinking partner session to identify how you can improve the results of the school you lead this fall.