The end of week 5 of the school year has just ended. You are half way through the first term in your new role. How do you feel? Is it going smoothly? 90 days into any new job, the hope is that you have hit the break-even point where you are consuming the same amount of resources and energy as you are giving back to the organisation. Right now, you are just over a third of the way along that journey, however, you should be seeing some successes and feeling as if your work is making a positive difference on the organization and the people around you. If not, it is time to secure some early wins. If you can’t see them happening, then it is timely to return to the notes you made from your early meetings with your line manager where you discussed your role and the aspects that are to be your key areas of focus. Look over that list and identify one, or maybe two, that can be covered off more quickly and identify some steps towards achieving them that can be secured in the next few weeks and get going on them, remembering of course not to drop the bigger things you have been consistently working on over the last 5 weeks.
This week the focus of my article is on something I see many teachers do far too often and it’s not wise and more importantly it’s not healthy. It can also set up poor habits and a mindset that is difficult to shift once these habits become ingrained. I want to remind you that in your work, whether it is in a school or any organization, you don’t work alone nor do you have to nor is it expected. Just because you teach inside a classroom does not mean that all your work, your thinking and your planning, has to be done on your own. The old proverb holds true ‘no man is an island’ and I’m going to add to this proverb that no woman is an island either. In your leadership role, there are times when you will need to make the decision, but his doesn’t mean that the decision needs to be made without consultation or the gathering of advice or the opinion and attitude of your team members. And just because you seek the advice and input of others does not mean that you don’t necessarily know how to make the decision or know how to address a problem. Nor does it mean you are a poor leader. So please remove these negative mindsets from your thinking right now before they creep into permanent thought.
When you started this role you formulated goals and a vision for your year ahead and what you wanted to do in your work.. A good leader shares that vision with their team and excites them about the journey ahead. The leader inspires the team to see the benefits of achieving the goals and of living the vision and ideally keeps reinforcing this message with the necessary enthusiasm and support and with some regularity so as to keep the group moving forward and enjoying the ride along the way. In effect, keeping the vision buoyant on the sea even when the weather changes or the wind direction shifts. It is worth checking in with yourself, are you doing this? Is your team still aware of the direction they are heading and do they feel supported along the journey? Have you been recognising their efforts to move in this new direction and in that recognition having you been acknowledging them, their attitude and celebrating the small steps forward individually and as a team? If not, add this to your ‘To Do’ this for this week.
It is too easy to think that the only person to get something done and done well is to do it yourself. Sure the task will get done but at the expense of what? If you are travelling a lone journey towards your team’s vision, it is not your team’s vision at all. It is just yours. You cannot share the success with anyone. You have not united your team and built strong collegiate relationships. Nor have you developed and empowered your team members to take on new challenges and learn new skills. Oh and what’s more there has definitely been no delegation! But there has been lots of control. So that’s a good thing, right? Wrong! Time to regroup.
Through delegating tasks you develop skills and leadership in others. Through sharing your vision and helping your team to see the benefits of the direction you are taking, they will be more likely and be more willing to join you on the journey. Giving them tasks to get involved and through encouraging them to come up with suggestions and ideas to help achieve the vision and allowing them to carry out these actions empowers them to be a part of the direction and to take ownership of the results. Now there is excitement across the group and together you can share in the challenges, difficulties and successes that you make together. Sure you have less direct control but in the long term you are developing a stronger more capable team that are move forward together. The time you gain through delegating to others you can use to encourage your team, recognize their successes, even meet with your colleagues in other areas of the organization to learn what they are doing and to plan the next steps towards achieving your vision. You are not an island! Remember to bring your team along with you on the journey and enjoy it together.