Time out for Leadership-your one-minute leadership idea

Tip Sheet #62

Are you a shotgunner?

Okay, yes it looks like I made up a word. I didn’t.  But I wanted to get your attention.  Shotgunner is a word, although one rarely hears it used. However, I am willing to bet that every principal that reads this article is guilty of shot gunning.  Some principals that I know are expert shotgunners. I must confess, although I never shot a gun, I was a pretty good shotgunner.  I tried my best to break this habit and I like to think that I was successful.  So, let’s dig a bit deeper.

A shotgunner is a person who is proficient a using a shotgun.  A shotgun is also referred to as a scattergun.  Upon firing, pellets leave the barrel and spread out.  Each pellet will lose energy as they move.  A shotgun blast will hit anything in the way. And this definition is quite accurate in describing this leadership technique that most people find abhorrent.  And yet we continue to do.  So, what do I mean when I refer to shotgunning in this light?

Shot gunning is when a person facilitating a meeting, mot times the principal, will stand up in front of the group and chastise the entire group for the behavior of a few.  The principal will be angry at the entire group because of one person’s action. So, you just blast away with your words. And just like the pellets from the gun that scatter everywhere, your words too will scatter and hit anything in their way. These words are damaging. Using this technique is probably one of the fastest ways to turn people off.  Your staff will quickly become resentful and angry with the person that uses this method.  Please take my word for it.  Your staff hates this technique and every time you “shotgun” you will lose credibility and respect as the leader.

If you have to correct a behavior, handle it individually with the person or persons that need to be addressed. Use your good management techniques and have that candid, crucial conversation with the people who need it.

Yes, it can be easier to shotgun but I think that is the coward’s way out.  When you do this, you really do not want to have that face to face individual conference to correct a behavior.  Maybe you are intimidated.  Maybe you just are not knowledgeable enough.  Maybe you just don’t want to be bothered.  Let’s face it, it is easier to bellow out a command at a meeting, with the hope that the person that needs it,will hear it and process it.  However, I have found that when you use this technique, the person that needs to hear it thinks it is not about him or her and lives in that land of denial.  For many, living in the land of denial is a comfortable place. Your message fell on deaf ears and was wasted.  The only thing it did was anger the preponderance of people that did not need to hear it.

Shot gunning is a technique that many new principals use.  I hope they use it because they just do not know better.  But I am afraid that if they do not reflect on this, they will become reliant on this technique and never change it.  Let’s hope someone has that collegial rapport with the principal and can provide the correct feedback to end this practice. 

Shot gunning is a culture killer. Stay away from it.  Stay far away because it can also be career killer. YOURS! 

I will use this forum for some advertising inasmuch as my first book is now available.  EducateMe, is a handy little survival guide for all new school employees.  Pick up a copy. The book is available on Barnes and Noble, Amazon and Lulu.  It is an easy read yet it contains some very valuable information. Do not assume your new staff has common sense. You need to clearly state your performance standards.Thanks.

I will be taking a week off next week to spend some additional time with the family.  I hope you do the same.  I will return in 2019.  Happy Holidays and Happy New Year.

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