Timeout for Leadership-your one-minute leadership idea

The Principal Coaching Clinic #27

What do you sacrifice for expediency?

Answer:  A lot!

Yes, expediency is one of the many poisons of excellence.  (Other poisons include, but are not limited to: complacency, laziness, and apathy.)  If you choose the expedient way, you will likely lose.

Probably the biggest thing that I sacrificed for expediency was honesty.  I would tend to tell people the things they wanted to hear rather than take on the difficult and yes honest conversation. 

I would tell myself, or rather delude myself, into thinking that this was no big deal because I had so many other things to do. I needed speed to make it through my “to-do list.”  I would further tell myself that there was probably nothing that was really going to be gained by having this difficult conversation.  For example, I would rationalize that committing probably three hours for honest feedback would never change the behavior that needed to be changed. I found this especially true when dealing with the tenured teacher.  Needless to say, I was wrong. 

When a principal or a leader in any organization behaves in this manner, he or she is not doing his or her job.  Taking the time to effectively provide honest feedback, is not only your job, it might be the foundational bedrock of your job.  To build a culture of trust and honesty, it is essential that you take the time to do your job correctly.

Did I behave this way because I just wanted to be liked?  Although I do not think that this was my motivating factor, I think that for many leaders this is what drives them.  He or she wants to be one of the “gang.”  You know the gang that sits around and denigrates everyone and everything.  The complainers.  The gossipers. The blamers.  This behavior does nothing to build an atmosphere of trust.  It only encourages more of your team to join the “dark side.”  I have spoken about the “dark-side” in the past.  It is that place in your school or in the minds of your team where nothing is right, especially you.

There were also times when I would be the problem solver for every individual.  I did not take the time to nurture or encourage staff to learn to solve problems by themselves.  Why?  Because it was just easier and quicker to tell that person what to do.  Part of your job as the principal of your school is to build a problem-solving capacity within each of your staff.  If you are always there to problem solve for everyone, you will never grow leaders and then you can go complain to some other principal about the lack of leadership skills among your staff.  Remember that you created this environment, so quit your complaining.

I also sacrificed in the name of expediency my ability to show gratitude to my staff.  This was never a strength of mine and I think part of my reason for this, I was too busy to take notice.  This is no way to build a positive culture.  If the leader fails to show appreciation and gratitude, your staff will seek to find this elsewhere.  I know that for those that exist on the “dark-side,” they will be happy to provide all of the emotional support or gratitude that your team needs. 

Slow down, you are moving too fast.  Do one thing at a time and do it right.  Being a principal is a marathon, not a sprint.  Never let honesty and candor escape because you do not want to be bothered.  Make the time to do things right.  It will pay huge dividends in the future, that I guarantee.

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