Effective School Leadership requires knowing how to navigate the challenges of dealing with people who poison the culture. These issues can’t be ignored because they don’t just go away and they negatively impact your relationships in a very competitive market.
In the current School Growth video course on Overcoming the Biggest Challenges to Grow, we share three imperatives for protecting your school from poisonous people.
#1. Don’t Avoid Them
Poisonous People Don’t Go Away.
Too often school leaders who want to ignore or find other things to do rather than confront people who are actively creating gossip and dissension. The job of an administrator is to build a team of talented, energized, engaged educators and then loving them like they are. That requires creating and sustaining a culture in which they can thrive.
Every school has a complex network of emotionally engaged relationships—that’s what makes schools such a challenge to lead and grow. Human nature makes it inevitable that conflicts will arise and some will seek to undermine your goals.
The chief administrator of a school—whether it’s the head of school, superintendent, principal, etc.—has to “own” the culture. It’s your job and it’s everyone’s job, but culture starts at the top!
#2. Set Clear Expectations
Effective School Leadership requires a behaviorally unified team with specific expectations. Excellence is never achieved through vagueness and randomness.
We consistently hear from teachers and staff during our focus group sessions for strategic growth planning that they want to know how to win—that is, tell them how they can most contribute to the culture, community, and mission, and then hold them fairly accountable to that performance rubric.
Administrators have to deal with some parents and some students who are poisonous, but success requires making sure employees stay on purpose. They cannot be allowed to corrupt the faculty culture and the educational opportunities for students.
Two elements that will help you clarify expectations: Core Values and Strategic Context
Behavioral Core Values are a key driver because they define the shared attitudes and beliefs that must be true for every employee. If you don’t have accountability to your mission core values and mission, then you genuinely have neither.
Every school has it’s own Strategic Context—your mission, your values, your target market, your value proposition, your history, your community your story, etc. Agreement on these key drivers are critical to your success and your ability to cultivate unity and focus.
#3. Build the S Factor
The S Factor is Self-Awareness—a primary factor in the success of every leader and every school. The most successful educators have a high degree of self-awareness, giving them the ability to use their talents and resources more effectively. They listen more, learn faster, and build stronger relationships.
Professional development for your campus should prioritize emotional intelligence and building self-awareness because with a more accurate self understanding, faculty are better prepared to participate in the complex culture of a school.
The biggest challenge for school leaders is always the human element, and we hope you’re able to use this course as a tool to prompt important conversations with your leadership team.