Timeout for Leadership-your one-minute leadership idea
Do you have more to fix than broken windows?
You may have spruced everything up on the outside of your building, but now you need to look at the people around the building.
Back in August I wrote about the need for keeping your shades at one level. For me, this has always been a metaphor for having an appealing and inviting looking place. Yes, a neat and orderly place. Always remember, as people drive by your school, they will remember what the building looks like. The shades need to be even. First impressions are critical. I have also spoken about the broken window philosophy employed by many cities. There is a great deal of research on this topic offering both pro and con voices. These leaders who live by this philosophy feel that it is essential to repair any broken windows and remove any graffiti as soon as possible. Not taking care of these items quickly will send a message that it is okay to exist in this manner.
As spring approaches, I am sure that you are trimming your bushes, cleaning out your gardens of winter debris and repairing pot holes in your driveway. But are you taking a look at the people that hang around your building? This could ultimately be more important than your garden being well manicured, your lawn being cut or if your shades are at one level. All of the window dressing, will not matter if one sees people around your building that communicate the exact opposite message.
I know, I made this mistake. My building looked fine, but the young adults hanging around the building, not even on school property, made it look terrible. I did not work closely enough with the police and community to remove these people. For the most part, these were young adults that had nothing better to do than to hang around the school at dismissal time. They were no longer students, yet for them, this was still the place to be. I am not suggesting that they were doing anything bad or had bad intentions. I knew most of them well. But I am suggesting that these “hangers on” gave the school a bad feeling. And let’s stop there before anyone may think that I am going down some sort of profiling highway. I am not. These “hangers on” as I like to call them, come in all shapes, sizes, colors and sexes.
I know that outsiders could have very easily been frightened away by this group. I could only imagine what a parent of an up and coming eighth grade student thought of this crew. Would you want your 13-year-old navigating this?
For those of you that perhaps don’t know what I mean, stop one evening, later than usual, at a local 7 Eleven, Wawa or Dunkin Donuts when you have to navigate a gauntlet of teenagers by the door to get into the store to pick up your quart of milk or that cup of coffee that you so drastically need. They were really not doing anything wrong, but I bet you were somehow intimindated. And if that is too strong of a word, I bet that you were cautious. You may have even decided not to get out of your car and find a different location. I have been there and done that.
If you are a business owner or one that it is the corporate world, just think if your customers had to navigate a similar group when your customers were seeking to do business. Probably most of you reading this blog are too young to remember what Times Square looked like years ago. Part of the turnaround and transformation of this area happened because the unsavory characters were moved away from this place.
So, the lesson for the day is to look deeper at your facility. Look beyond the lawn, shrubbery and trees. Look beyond the “broken windows” and the level of the shades. Is there something else that is sending a negative vibe about your school or business? Each one of you may have a different issue. Find your issue and address it.
Today on your way home, stop and look around. And based upon what you see, and only what you see, do you want to come back? And yes, more importantly, if you are the principal of this school, would you want your children to go there?