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As an “unorthodox” leadership coach I pride myself on telling you how it is.

The point of today’s post is to share ten uncommon ideas that will help you be an effective school leader.

YOU HAVE MORE THAN ENOUGH TIME.

“You will never ‘find’ time for anything, if you want time you must make it.” –Charles Buxton

10 THINGS NO ONE TOLD YOU ABOUT SCHOOL LEADERSHIP

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The norm is to complain about time.

“There’s never enough time” your colleagues will say.

Except …

There is plenty of time.

All that needs to change is your relationship and perspective regarding time. 

When you take responsibility for the time you have in a day and make a commitment to stop complaining about time, something magical happens …

You find that there is more than enough time to go around. What needs to change is your mindset and how you use time.

THE STAFF YOU HAVE CAN GET THE JOB DONE.

“Teamwork is the secret that makes common people achieve uncommon results” – Ifeanyi Enoch Onuoha

The norm is to complain about staff – especially, but not limited to – the troublesome people.

“One rotten apple will spoil the whole barrel” your colleagues will say.

So they put together an improvement plan which is really a “move them out of my building plan.”

But what if you couldn’t do that?

If you could only build a remarkable school keeping the staff you have, what changes?

Here are 5 ways you could optimize your team performance:

  1. Create a culture that no one would ever want to leave
  2. Help them achieve their goals inside and outside of work 
  3. Make meetings fun and productive
  4. Create feedback loops that welcome dissenting ideas and encourage “What if …” thinking
  5. Remove unnecessary tasks that demotivate your people

YOUR DISTRICT’S ATTITUDE TOWARD YOUR DEVELOPMENT DOESN’T MATTER.

“It’s not called district-development. It’s called personal development.” – Daniel Bauer

The research is there, but I’ll ask you to investigate your own experience.

Are your needs being met by your school district? Are they growing you? How are you being stretched and challenged?

Most importantly, how long have you been waiting for the coaching you long for?

The norm is that quality professional development is lacking for school leaders. But what is extraordinary is that some leaders actually do something about it.

They take their professional growth seriously and decide to invest in themselves because they are worth it.

The Better Leaders Better Schools’ motto is “Everyone wins when YOU get better.”

That CAN’T happen unless you grow. And if you are waiting for others to do the growing for you …

You’ll be waiting a long time.

THE JOB WILL KILL YOU IF YOU DON’T TAKE SELF-CARE SERIOUSLY.

“I believe that the greatest gift you can give your family and the world is a healthy you.” – Joyce Meyer

Too many school leaders do not PRIORITIZE their health.

The job is demanding so it’s easy to work all the time.

And many people are addicted to work.

Others like to work hard so they can play the martyr …

“Woe is me … I work so hard and my life is so difficult.”

If you don’t take your health seriously, you might end up paying the ultimate price.

Trish Antulov died at her principal’s desk.

Her husband told reporters, “She just didn’t have time to look after herself properly … She was under a lot of stress and terrible pressure just to be successful in her job.”

Dying on the job is not success. Your school isn’t worth dying for. 

COOPERATION > COMPETITION.

“To ask, “What’s best for me” is finite thinking. To ask, “What’s best for us” is infinite thinking.” – Simon Sinek

Too many schools compete.

They want the #1 spot …

To get the blue ribbon …

And the recognition …

They believe there can only be one winner. If the game you are playing is a competition, that is true. Or …

You can play what Simon Sinek calls an “Infinite Game.”

Infinite minded leaders believe, “You don’t have to lose for me to win.”

Imagine a world where districts shared freely:

  • Staff
  • Resources
  • Best practices
  • And more …

Instead of competing for the #1 spot in the city, state, and nation …

Ultimately more students would win. 

LEARNING DOESN’T MAKE YOU A BETTER LEADER.

“Action will delineate and define you.” – Thomas Jefferson

It pains me to say this as someone who LOVES learning.

Learning can be a waste of time.

If you don’t take action, NOTHING changes. 

For some leaders, it’s easier to read a book about hard conversations than having the actual hard conversations.

In this way, learning is a way of hiding. 

John Doerr said, “Ideas are easy. Execution is everything,”

What’s the difference between the founder of Netflix and you?

The founder did the work to create the company. You did not.

Having the idea for Netflix and creating Netflix are two very different things. 

PUBLIC, PRIVATE, CHARTER … IT DOESN’T MATTER … WE ARE ALL ON THE SAME TEAM.

“We are more alike, my friends, than we are unalike.” – Maya Angelou

Just like competition, it is too popular (and lazy) to “other” the various forms of education.

Kevin Kelly said, “Trust me. There is no ‘them.’”

Over a decade ago I saw charters as a problem. I saw them as “stealing” students from public schools.

I no longer see things that way …

Another concept in The Infinite Game is having a “Just Cause” so BIG that you can’t do it on your own. 

You’ll need help. 

My Just Cause is “to connect, grow, and mentor every school leader who wants to level up.”

So anyone in the business of helping school leaders grow are not my competitors. They are actually on MY TEAM and helping me accomplish MY GOAL.

All schools are working toward the same goal: to provide a quality education and open doors for the next generation.

WARNING! YOUR FAMILY MISSES YOU!

I’ll never forget when a client told me, “I’m a better parent to my students than to my own children.”

There’s a theme in this post. 

Align your values with your actions. 

I don’t know any leaders who want to be a workaholic at the cost of their family.

And yet …

This struggle is real for many school leaders.

It doesn’t have to be that way. 

You can say NO.

You can set boundaries.

You can prioritize your family.

YOU’LL GET MORE DONE IF YOU DON’T WORK SO HARD. 

“If you’re at 85 percent — if you aren’t striving and straining and operating at the very limit of your ability — you have room to think.” – Jeff Haden

The other day I was listening to Tim Ferriss interviewing Hugh Jackman on his podcast.

Jackman told a story of the athlete Carl Lewis – winner of 9 Olympic gold medals – a successful man for sure.

The interesting thing about Carl is that he was notorious for starting off races slow. 

Not good for a sprinter! 

But his coach once told him something that helped him rack up win-after-win, and gold-after-gold medal.

“Just give me 85% effort,” his coach said.

Contrast that with what you hear in education.

“I want 100% … NO … 110% effort!”

A maximum effort makes you tense. 

85% effort on the other hand, lets you approach the challenge with a relaxed focus. 

While other runners were getting more and more tense throughout the race, Carl was relaxed …

And he blew right past them through the finish line.

THE MAJORITY OF SCHOOL LEADERS ARE AVERAGE OR WORSE. IF YOU ARE READING THIS YOU CAN BE GREAT. 

One reason I became a school leader is because I saw how BAD other school leaders were and I thought, “I could do that better.”

I served 20+ schools from the Central Office of Chicago Public Schools and during that time I worked with and saw many examples of school leadership.

The truth is, the majority of principals were average or worse …

That makes sense to me too.

It’s an easier path. That’s why I call these kinds of leaders “Play It Safe Principals.”

  • Play It Safe Principals aren’t organized.
  • Play It Safe Principals don’t have hard conversations or communicate well.
  • Play It Safe Principals ignore culture.
  • Play It Safe Principals care more about the “look” versus what it takes …
  • Play It Safe Principals don’t prioritize their professional growth.

Great Principals are Ruckus Makers.

Ruckus Makers …

  • Invest in Their Continuous Growth
  • Challenge the Status Quo
  • And Design the Future of School, Now!

Becoming a Ruckus Maker begins with a choice, but it doesn’t end there.

The fact that you read this article tells me that you are on the path …

Now be sure to act!

READY TO LEVEL UP?

I’m hosting a the “Maximize Your Margin” 6-day challenge soon …

If you would like to trade in the constant feeling of being over-stressed and live life on your terms, we can help.

Join the challenge today! 

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