Timeout for Leadership-your one-minute leadership idea

The Principal Coaching Clinic #28

Are you “beating the hustle” out of your team?

Answer:  Of course, you are!

This past week while I was reading a magazine and the aforementioned concept caught my attention.  The person in the article was referring to his pursuit of his MBA.  When he was completed, he felt as though the process “beat the hustle” out of him.  This caused me to reflect on my lengthy career in school leadership as both a principal and superintendent and I realized that I could very easily “beat the hustle” out of you.  And to all of my former teammates, I extend to you my apology.

You see for me, what you did was never enough.  I always wanted more.  I wanted more effort and more production.  I could both overtly and covertly push you.  And I could do incredible harm with just my body language.  I could speak volumes without ever opening my mouth. And at the end of the day, I would come up short in the gratitude department.  I “beat the hustle” out of myself so I was never asking any more from my team than I would ask of myself.  I was wrong to do it to you and wrong to do it to myself.

In the spirit of the approaching World Series, I finally understand why over the course of a very long season (for a playoff team, over 160 games), you cannot run out every ground ball, which is most likely an easy out, full speed.  Over the course of the year your body will be physically drained.  Likewise, a teacher cannot approach every class and every activity running full speed.  Over the course of the day, week, year and career, it will catch up to you and ultimately cut your career short.

I ask every leader now to take a moment to think about how you “beat the hustle” out of your team.  I will share two ways that I accomplished this task. Please always understand that “beating the hustle” out of you was never a conscious goal but my personality just let it happen.

I thought nothing of interrupting your class or schedule with needless minutia or giving you a last-minute change.  Let’s dig a bit deeper on this.  Namely:

  • I would never hesitate getting on that annoying public address system to make my job a bit easier.  Yes, there are times these interruptions cannot be avoided but I have come to find out that principals and their secretaries just love that microphone.  Maybe it is a source of power of some sort.  I am not sure but towards the end of my leadership career I banned the use of that contraption without it being an emergent situation.
  • I never hated making a last-minute change to your schedule and did not think twice about it.  I did not respect your time. I know I became very cavalier about this.  I would think that the change was no big deal and everyone would adjust.  Shame on me.  For example, I can recall forgetting a guest speaker coming in and my error would force an entire schedule change for the building.  The same would go for a change in the schedule for a school photographer, assembly program or class meeting.  Once again, I learned how much this behavior negatively impacts instruction and I got much better at this later in my career.

There is a moral here somewhere.  And for me it is simple.  The leader must understand how his or her behavior impacts the team and he or she must be the one to change and adjust personally or the “hustle” from the entire school will be gone.

Think about it.  We will continue our discussion on this topic next week and oh by the way, Go Yankees!!!

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