I use the term “teachers” broadly. Actually, at our school, we are all “leaders.” Teachers, custodians, administrators, counselor, cafeteria staff, we all have the title “Leader” on our name tags. As the principal of all of these amazing leaders, here are some things that I hope they know.
I believe in you and expect you to believe in yourself.
Not only do I have an endless purpose and passion for the work to which we have given our life, but I believe in YOU. I work hard to get to know you on a deep enough level that, while I will support your growth areas, I want to focus way more energy on your strengths. Let’s amplify your genius and create opportunities for you that shine a bright light on your gifts.
You do the most important work and have amazing abilities to transform your students’ success and empower them as leaders and learners. I commit to believing in you and building up that same belief in yourself.
I’m never too busy for you.
Inevitably, whether it is while I’m out in the building or in my office, someone will stop me because they need something. Maybe they have an idea they want to hash out, a problem they are trying to solve, or a celebration to share. Too many times, they start out by saying, “I’m sorry. I know you’re busy, but…” I will often intervene and say, “You know this is my job, right? To listen to you, to support you, to celebrate with you. I’m never too busy for you.”
After two years, I think this starter has become more infrequent. I don’t feel the need to wear my “busy badge” and parade the fact that I have a lot on my plate. My team knows I work hard. And more than anything, I hope they know that I am here to serve them and what they need to be their best.
We are a team and, together, we can do the impossible.
We fail and succeed together. Our students and school community need a team that, when our strengths are working together, there is nothing that can stop us. Because of this, I believe and cultivate a shared leadership culture that is strengths-focused. It is US against our inspiring, ambitious goals and how much we trust and value being a real team is the strongest indicator of what we will be able to accomplish for and with our students.
Go take risks. I have your back.
I have no desire to be ordinary or mediocre and I don’t want that for you, either. Being remarkable requires taking risks and having the courage to do things differently. If we are going to move forward on our path to greatness, we will have to support one another and know that there will be times when we fail forward. We will have to be comfortable being uncomfortable because our vision requires each of us to make sacrifices in order to grow. During that growth, calm your fears by knowing I will be there to support you.
I take my responsibility seriously but not myself.
I own the energy I bring into our school and know that I have an enormous responsibility. The accountability I feel to the success of our entire school community can be overwhelming, however I choose instead to be energized by my impact. I have strengths I bring to my leadership, but when you make a list of people who are not perfect, please include me at the top. My leadership is not about me, I check my ego at the door, and bring my unique gifts humbly to those I am blessed enough to serve.
We need honest and genuine conversations.
To be the best we can be, we will need to trust one another enough to have the difficult conversations. This includes two-way feedback, both constructive and affirmative. It also involves talking honestly around the dilemmas we face in education. What we do is complicated and messy. And that’s ok. Let’s agree to put the good, the bad and the ugly on the table and when we get up from the table, know that we’ll be better off because of the thoughts we’ve shared.
I will never apologize for working to create a culture of excellence.
We will do whatever it takes because our work is too important, our impact too great to do otherwise. I respect you and your work too much to lower my expectations and certainly our students deserve our highest level of belief. I am motivated by our shared WHY and honored that we are creating this culture together.
You are special.
There is one you. I value your uniqueness and all of those special gifts you bring to our school. I also love you. As a human. I care about your family, your interests, all of those quirky things that make you you. I am thankful our paths have crossed because you inspire me to be the best leader I can be.
I hope and am fairly certain that those with whom I work daily already know these things. One thing, however, I’ve learned as a leader is that I can never over communicate something of such importance. Better that I be transparent and build trust than assume and miss an opportunity.
Leaders, does your team know those things you would hope you convey? Would these be on your list? What else would you add?