Timeout for Leadership-your one-minute leadership idea
The Principal Coaching Clinic #20
Is your personal lens focused?
Perhaps the better question might be, how is your personal lens focused? What do you really see and how do you process it? This is not a lesson in anatomy and physiology. I want you to instead take a look at your frame of reference when you see something. How does your world of work look to you?
What do you see when you turn to the back of the magazine and see that cartoon of the old witch and beautiful woman? You may have to move the magazine at a specific angle to see both pictures or move the pages closer or farther away from your eyes to process both images.
What do you really want to see? What are your preconceived notions about what you may be viewing? Although I think we have gotten a great deal better with classroom observations, I know our pre-visit ideas about the teacher will help focus what we are about to see. Letting these notions drive us is quite unhealthy and unfair. As I watched the Democratic debates over the last few evenings, I know I had my own set of preconceived notions that I know will help focus my lens and form my opinions. These preconceived notions taint the reality of what we see. I did not want to see the warts on my preferred candidate and I know that I went into many observations not wanting to see the warts on my favorite teachers. This is juxtaposed to my reticence to acknowledge good teaching from someone I did not expect it from. I experienced the same feelings during the debates when I did not want to credit someone I did not feel good about. My personal lens was not focused.
You see, I am convinced that our focus, or how we look through the lens drives us and at most times this is not productive. Do you shortchange your teachers (or other employees) because of your preconceived ideas about them? Your perspective when you view something is critical. Your point of view will help paint that picture.
Do you want your team members to succeed or fail? Please do not give lip service to this. I know there are probably people that you cannot stand to see as succeeding. And when that drives you, it is clearly a flaw in your behavior.
Yes, this has a great deal to do with the “glass as half full or empty” concept. Can you force yourself to be neutral? Can you force yourself not to let preconceived ideas about someone or something drive you? This is extremely hard to do, but a good principal, a good leader can call it like he or she sees them. You have to be that home plate umpire who calls a strike a strike regardless of who is pitching or batting.
Your mindset cannot be similar to Winnie the Pooh’s lovable friend Eeyore who only sees everything from a perspective of doom and gloom. Eeyore goes through life wanting to see everything as sad and depressing. It is essential that you not be your school’s or your organization’s Eeyore. And these words of advice are coming from a crusty curmudgeon. Every day you must work at it. Take my word for it. And to paraphrase the Farmers Insurance Group, “I know a thing or two because I have seen a thing or two.”
****Note Well—I write both this blog and my books from a perspective of my experience. Many times, pointing out what not to do because of how I may have handled something during my career. A trusted advisor told me I usually sound too negative and this person knows a great deal of positive accomplishments occurred during my watch. I like to think this is true but I choose to try to make my writing lessons about learning from my missteps. Time has allowed me to reflect and become that undefeated Monday morning quarterback. If only it was that easy.