A few weeks ago I shared a blog post about the causes and risks of being an Overloaded School Leader. The responses on LinkedIn, Twitter, etc., were very interesting:
I find the best experience in terms of not feeling "overloaded" was in a school that focused on team spirit amongst staff and allowed for teacher input on curriculum and programming. The teachers had freedom to make changes, try new approaches, and focus on real issues in education. -- N. MacLeod
I suggest delegating some of your work to others that you trust can do the job to your level of satisfaction and/or expectation. As I work, I try and find a way to make my job easier and less stressful. I know that this sounds strange, but discovering how to make your work easier and more fulfilling is not too hard if you try! -- S. Schofield
Get your best to do their best. Delegation is definitely a key aspect. Every team has different talents that can be utilized. Use talents to your advantage of destressing your workload. -- S. Miller
Delegation was a common theme in the feedback regarding leadership qualities, so below are a few tips for getting more done through effectively working with your staff.
Define Your Process
Overloaded school leaders keep way too much institutional knowledge trapped in their heads. Find a way to get it out! Start by building a process map that defines the flow of data, activities, and desired results. When your staff lacks the knowledge of how to be successful, they will either experiment or keep coming back to you with questions that could have been answered through a well defined process. This will also help you to be more inclined to delegate and trust your people.
It's much more difficult to improve your operations without repeatable and consistently executed processes throughout the school and from classroom to classroom. I use the iPad app called Grafio to document processes. Using such a tool allows you to make inevitable adjustments to your processes as you seek to improve quality and then issue an updated version of the map.
Identify Your Goals & Rules
What do you ultimately want and what are the guidelines for making decisions? Clearly defining your goals and rules gives your faculty and staff the framework in which to be most productive. Autonomy is one key to building a motivated team, and they will be more prepared to execute and innovate when the leadership provides explicit directions.
School leaders have to make decisions throughout the day--some can be properly delegated. That means not only assigning the activity but also the ability to make decisions. Accountability without authority is unlikely to produce the desire results. Include in your delegation assignment how you make decisions regarding the given situation and your specific expectations. It would be wise to write down the goal(s) to provide greater clarity, including deadlines and conditions of satisfaction.
Learn & Adjust
Humility is vital for effective leadership, and this includes accepting that you will make mistakes and have room for improvement. As a learning organization you want to build a culture of innovation that is committed to assessing performance, collecting important data, and adjusting processes and services. Flexibility is a sign of intelligence, especially for school employees who seek to provide a personalized experience for each student.