Lesa Cain Writes… Summer Thinking for School Leaders

The following is a letter that LYS Coach, Lesa Cain, recently shared with the Principals she works with.

As you go about your summer activities, hopefully resting, traveling and generally rejuvenating yourself after the year, I challenge you to think about the year ahead and to be prepared to communicate the following with anyone who will listen, especially your staff.

1. Simon Sinek says that the cost of leadership is self-interest.  He explains that as a leader there are certain perks that everyone accepts: salary, parking place, how people treat you in the position.  Those and many other “perks” come at a price – that you will absolutely without hesitation put yourself in the face of any issue FIRST – that you will never throw your people under the bus and that your needs come LAST after everyone else’s.

With this in mind – how are you demonstrating and modeling this on a daily basis?  At a staff luncheon, will you serve everyone the food and you eat last?  Are you making eye contact with every staff member every day?

2. We all know that having a system in place is critical to the success of an organization.  It is easy to communicate what we will do and how we will do it – that is very appealing to the conscious part of the brain.  The harder and even more critical piece is the WHY – why are we doing what we do?  That appeals to our limbic system – the emotional, gut level part of our brain and there will be NO positive change until emotions are activated. People buy the why, not the what.

Can you verbalize why you make the decisions you make?  Work on that this summer and TELL your staff the why at the very first staff meeting in August and then repeat it over and over and over and over and over…

3. Patience as a leader is under-valued.  I’m not talking about moving slowly – rather your “patience” when the following happens (borrowed from Amber Teamann’s blog – Technically Yours, Teamann):
…When you think everyone understood what you said, but find out some didn’t. …When you figure out people can’t read your intentions, just your actions …When THAT student is sent to you again. …When you wish “So & So” would have handled that differently. …When you wish YOU had handled that differently. …When you see things moving slower than you think they should be going. …When you realize that you can’t MAKE people change, but only inspire them to want too.

Patience can be the difference between being respected and being ignored. Impatient leaders lose the ability to bring people on board. Patience makes you pause, makes you reflect, makes you not so quick to jump. Change requires patience. Communication requires patience. Collaboration requires patience. Patience allows others to share, others to be heard, and you to think. 
4. Each of you ran a marathon last year and all of you finished!  As you prepare to run again, what is on your NOT To-do list?  What did you spend time and precious energy doing last year that DID NOT result in what you intended.  Identify at least 3 of those things and STOP doing them!  There is no reason to continue to add and add without subtracting. Especially when you know the results will not be you want. 
5. Stress occurs when human beings are isolated and lonely.  Schools can be very isolating – people surround us, but we come to work and close the door, and now we e-mail more than we talk.  The more isolated a person becomes, the more stress they feel.  What can you do to create a community on your campus?  I’m not talking about a friendly lounge, but a real community where all members know WHY they do what they do and a common belief in the WHY.  I’ll give you a hint on where to start. Who are you as a leader and what can your staff expect from you?  Identify 3 things and TELL them.  The caveat here is that you must be honest – if you say one thing and do another, you might lead, but no one will follow.
Have a great summer and work to prepare for an even greater year!  I would love to hear what you want to work on and am here to help in any way!
L.C.

Think. Work. Achieve. Your turn…

  • Call Jo at (832) 477-LEAD to order your campus set of “The Fundamental 5: The Formula for Quality Instruction.” Individual copies available on Amazon.com!  http://tinyurl.com/Fundamental5 
  • Call Jo at (832) 477-LEAD to order your campus set of “Look at Me: A Cautionary School Leadership Tale” Individual copies available on Amazon.com!  http://tinyurl.com/lookatmebook 
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  • Upcoming Presentations: Kentucky Association of School Administrators Leadership Institute; The Fundamental 5 National Summit (Keynote Presentation) 
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