The Power & Pressure of the Principalship: Why Principals Need Support Now!

“With great power, comes great responsibility.”

-Uncle Ben in Spiderman

 

weight-of-world-2
Image from quoteaddicts.com

Being a principal isn’t easy, and I’m not so sure it’s supposed to be that way. It’s a tough job. As principal, you have the power to improve the educational experience of students, instructional practices of teachers, and build a strong culture of trust among parents. If you work it right, they say, you can accomplish something amazing.  Principals must be master mind readers, noting each teacher’s particular strengths and opportunities for growth. Principals must know their students, in both academic and social emotional fashion, and must be skilled at developing partnerships with parents to help students reach their maximum potential. Principals are tasked with creating a culture of collaboration, where each and every person feels valued, although they have little control of anyone’s actions.

 

While principals may administer consequences or extend rewards and/or recognition for a particular action, the ultimate decision regarding how one acts or behaves, rest within each individual. Principals work to earn the power and permission to influence others, not control them. Principals are tasked with being familiar with a variety of content, pedagogy, instructional methods, all the while ensuring they have a firm handle on the budget, maintenance and operations, transportation logistics, personnel protocol, professional development, and board policies. Principals must support teachers, students, and parents in their efforts, but here’s a question: Who supports principals? Furthermore, how are principals supported? Beyond the monthly meeting and annual conference, what structures are in place to create that same culture of collaboration that is so beneficial to teachers and students, for principals? When principals need support where do they turn?

 

For far too long, principals have been left out of the conversation regarding the benefits of collaborative communities of learners for teacher and for students. Principals, too, need collaborative communities with their peers, to work through problems of practice, to develop intelligent solutions to the challenges they face, and quite frankly to last in the principalship. In recent weeks, I’ve read a great deal regarding the principal shortage. Many states and districts are focused on strategies to replenish the principal pipeline, but who helps you stay there once you make the rank of principal?

 

As a former principal, I can attest to the feelings of isolation, pressure, and stress that accompany the principalship. While a monthly principals’ meeting might provide a venue for a common meeting place, it doesn’t serve the purpose of support. In a recent tweet, I asked principals to share with me what would give them the support they so desperately need. As I presumed, they noted the following:

 

*A listener who understands the complexity of the job. While the first and foremost task is teaching and learning, so very often other factors (meeting basic needs of students, working through a personal crisis with a staff member, budgetary or operational issues) consume a great deal of time.

*A coach who uses an assets based approach to coach them. It takes more than a review of school data and a set of goals to help principals meet the mark of academic achievement, but so often, to use a sports analogy, we cite last season’s record, state the goal for this season, and tell principals “Play ball!”. Occasionally, we cheer them on, but that’s usually at the end of the game, better known as testing season!

*A superior who recognizes the things that are working well, as well as the opportunities for growth. Monthly principal meetings ought to be more than problem listing sessions. Principals need time with their peers to work through problems of practice. Additionally, principals need to be coached on what they can do to develop their skills, sharpen their weaknesses, etc. and that must go beyond talking to another principals at a meeting or shadowing someone else for a day.

*A structured and routine mechanism to ensure consistent opportunities for collaboration. We know professional learning communities serve as powerful platforms for teachers to improve their practice. Principals, too, need a job embedded opportunity to participate in a professional learning community that meets their needs.

*A focus on principal wellness, with professional development on stress management. As a former principal, I began a journey of fitness purely out of a grave need to manage stress, improve my sleep patterns, and reduce anxiety. It took me years in the principalship to recognize that I needed to be intentional about managing my stress levels so that I could bring my very best self to the job each day.

 

While the responsibility of the principalship is great, so is the pressure. Principals face a constant pressure to improve teacher practice, student learning, school community relations, and last but certainly not least, themselves. If principals aren’t provided with the support they need, what should be their power, often becomes pressure. In the age of high stakes testing, increased accountability, along with a push to be innovative in the ways we teach and that students learn, it is not difficult to see how a principal’s potential power can easily becomes a persistent pressure. District leaders have a responsibility to support principals in the same manner and fashion that they support the work of teachers and the educational experiences of students.

 

Principals must not be left to fend for themselves when we know collaboration, creativity, communication, and critical thinking are essential to the educational experience. If we know those elements are working for students and teachers, why aren’t we making it our business to create routine opportunities for principals in the same manner? Principals are the heart of school leadership and they need your support now! I dare you to do something different!

 

Until next time-be you, be true, be a hope builder!


Dr. Latoya Dixon, is a passionate educator having served as a teacher and later as an elementary and middle school principal. She currently serves as a state-level leader for education in South Carolina  For more great reading by Dr. Dixon check out her blog at http://latoyadixon5.blogspot.com/

Students Today – Leaders Tomorrow

I want you to visualize something.  Close your eyes and imagine a classroom………..

 

Scenario #1: All the students are sitting at desks in rows looking at the back of each other’s heads. The teacher is in the traditional spot at the front of the room. There is a Power Point on the board and instruction is being provided in lecture style format. The predominant voice is the instructor’s. The students dutifully sit at their desks and take notes because they know how to “play the game of school”.  There is minimal movement and even less conversation.

 

Scenario #2: The desks are arranged in “pods” or groups of 4-6. The teacher is nowhere to be found at first glance. One must look closely to find her/him walking around or sitting with the various groups of students. The predominant voices are those of the students talking and learning with each other.  It is an extremely active environment with multiple conversations happening at once.

 

Which classroom is developing and inspiring tomorrow’s leaders?  

 

What is a leader?

 

My definition of a leader is someone who is a listener, a thinker, an inquirer, a risk-taker, resilient, and imagines what could be possible while empowering and inspiring others.

 

As educators, how are we creating tomorrow’s leaders in today’s classrooms?  Which character traits do we encourage and celebrate?  Do all students believe they can be leaders? Do you tell your thinkers, listeners and seemingly “quiet” students they are leaders?

 

As educators, we need to break the traditional definition of what a leader is thought to be.

 

  • Male or female?
  • Adult or child?
  • Introvert or extrovert?
  • Speaker or listener?  

 

When you hear the word leader, what image or name immediately pops into your head? How is that belief transferred to your students?

 

As I thought about this, I decided to reach out to fellow PLN members and some of my students for their thoughts. The responses I received were inspiring, thoughtful and empowering.

 

  • Someone who never gives up and is responsible for their actions. They are a true role model to people and make people want to listen to them because they make such a good impact on people’s lives.”  8th grade student

 

  • A leader is someone who influences a group of people to do a good or even maybe a bad thing.8th grade student

 

  • Someone who people look up to, and sets a good example for others.8th grade student

 

  • “Influenced. Makes leadership attainable, not positional.” @heffrey

 

  • “ Student leaders are collaborative, curious, independent, and confident.” @JayBilly2

 

  • “A leader empowers others to individually and collectively rise to their fullest potential.” @burgessdave

 

  • “They never stop learning, inspiring, supporting, questioning, they lead by example and they empower others.” @itsmeSpiri

 

  • “A leader is grounded in knowledge, curiosity, and open-minded flexibility to continuously ask and ponder questions leading us all on a never-ending quest toward PATHWAYS OF POSSIBILITIES.” @DrMaryHoward

 

  • “Leaders find, foster and flourish the gifts in others, so they may go and illuminate the world.” @LaVonnaRoth

 

  • “A leader is someone who doesn’t need a title, who honors where people are in their own growth, and who scaffolds appropriately.”  @bethhill2829

 

  • “A leader is someone who inspires action through their vision and uplifts others around them.” @AmyHeavin

 

  • “We are all leaders in one way or another, we can either use our leadership potential or not.”  @drneilgupta

 

How do we provide scaffolds in fostering student leadership? How do we nurture the above mentioned traits?

 

I believe it begins in a student centered classroom.

 

Student Centered Classrooms

 

Student centered classrooms may have multiple descriptions. Students need to learn more than the content and curriculum. They need to learn how to interact with others in a collaborative environment.

 

Is your environment and/or instruction reflected in the following descriptions?

 

Ownership of  the Learning Environment

 

It is our classroom. The priority is creating a safe, secure, comfortable space. (Need a pencil? They go in my drawers and locate one.) . I change my furniture based on my lessons or student requests. (Studying Anne Frank? Create the Secret Annex.)

 

Teachers and Learners

 

Everyone is a teacher and learner.  I am more than willing to take a seat in the class and learn from my students. Sometimes planned, but often times not. (Examples to share? Why don’t you go up to the document camera and teach us. Students write catchy “hooks” in their essays? Teach a small group.)

 

Wall Space

 

I consider our walls “living”. They are covered with relevant, often student requested anchor charts and resources to support independent learning. (Need a resource for later? Take a picture.)  Student artwork is proudly displayed, particularly in the book corner, a favorite place to hang out, work or read. (Buying posters from the store is virtually unheard of now.)

 

Building Relationships

 

Some might find it odd, but I have few personal objects, photos, etc. Reason? It opens up discussions between my students and I. They have to engage in conversation with me and ask questions in order to get to know me. Building rapport and establishing relationships is everything!

 

Teaching Collaboration

 

Students need to learn how to problem solve, respectfully disagree and stand up for their beliefs.  This does not always happen naturally, in fact most of the time it needs to be taught. They need supported opportunities to role play and practice.

 

As @ShiftParadigm said: “In education, a classroom is either a place where all students learn well all of the time, or not. If you want the former to happen, then classroom and everything else must revolve around student learning.”

 

Final Thought
We are preparing students for life as citizens of a global community. They need to be problem solvers, risk takers, inquirers, collaborative, reflective and confident individuals. We can help build that foundation.  I challenge you to think about how you will provide the necessary skills and strategies for building tomorrow’s leaders…..today.

 


Today’s guest blog is written byTeresa Gross, a passionate life long learner  and middle school literacy teacher in New York.

 

10 Characteristics of a LeadUp Teacher

 

 

A LeadUp Teacher undoubtedly possesses many characteristics! Innovative, inspiring, and empowering just to name a few. What would you add to these 10 Defining Characteristics of a LeadUp Teacher?

 

10 LeadUp Teacher Characteristics (4)Continually Curious

A LeadUp Teacher is adept at asking questions. What is…, how does it work, is there another way, what about this, why… and so on. This teacher asks these questions of both others and themselves on a regular basis. Never content with answers that take on a, “This is how it has always been done.” flavor. The LeadUp Teacher knows that questioning the status quo is their responsibility and others actually expect them to push the envelope with their questions. -Heidi

 

Adds Value to Others

LeadUp Teachers recognize how to relate to colleagues in all positions, and they devote quality time to listening with understanding to their needs and concerns. They are cognizant of what others value and are continually learning about those they work with in order to lead effectively. When we identify the strengths of those around us, we can uplift and encourage our team members to step forward. As we add value to individuals, areas of growth further develop and begin to strengthen due to trusting relationships, support, and encouragement. LeadUp Teachers are aware of the impact they have when they intentionally add value to colleagues. -Lis

 

Empowers & Celebrates Strengths

When teachers feel celebrated they recognize that their strengths contribute to the greater good and are motivated to make more of an impact. LeadUp Teachers understand that it’s not solely the principal’s role to celebrate the accomplishments of others, but grasp that as a collaborative team we share this responsibility. The LeadUp Teacher empowers colleagues by modeling risk-taking, sharing, and being transparent about both successes and failures. By being willing to take the fall and share about experiences, colleagues feel a sense of security which in turn promotes them to take risks as well. Leadup teachers verbalize their belief in their colleagues and act as a support system that provides genuine encouragement. -Lis

 

Reflective Practitioner 

Deliberate reflection turns experiences into an opportunity for growth. Leadup teachers understand that they need to look back to move forward. They reflect by uncovering both their successes and failures in order to retool their practice. Reflection that is transparent promotes the growth of both individuals and teams as teachers share what they learned, and how they will proceed forward in the future. Leadup Teachers embrace a growth mindset and the idea that every opportunity around us, provides an opportunity to learn. -Lis

 

Habitual Learner 

The LeadUp Teacher doesn’t depend on others to grow or challenge them. They view professional development as a lifestyle, not an event and are always on the lookout for opportunities to learn more, do more, and be more because they know their continual growth is a critical factor to their students’ growth over time. Being a lifelong learner is never cliche for the LeadUp Teacher, but rather is their unyielding mindset, the pervasive culture in their classroom, and encompases a passion not quenched by compliance based professional development. George Couros explained, “To truly integrate new learning, it is critical to carve out time for exploration, collaboration, and reflection to allow educators to apply what they are learning.” This is what a LeadUp Teacher does in all areas of their life. -Heidi

 

Ignites Innovative Practices & Embraces Shifts

The LeadUp Teacher often serves as a catalysts for innovation as they see a variety of possibilities on how to craft diverse and unique learning opportunities that richly benefit students, and their school community. As connected educators who embrace learning from fellow educators in a variety of positions, the LeadUp Teacher is able to gain a unique perspective on shifts taking place in schools globally. LeadUp Teachers are fearless in the pursuit of what’s best for students and their school community. With a tendency to be visionary, the LeadUp Teacher identifies how they are a key player in fostering systemic changeModel Risk Taking through cultivating shifts that impact school culture, instructional strategy, and ultimately student learning. -Lis

 

Demonstrates Courage & Voice

Cultivating change and being a risk taker in education requires boldness. The LeadUp Teacher exhibits courage, finesse, and demonstrates a solid voice when it comes to advocating for improved practices and authentic learning opportunities for students. Before making decisions, a LeadUp Teacher always considers the impact on the whole child. When educators collaborate with an all hands on deck approach, they empower one another to demonstrate courage and share their voice. -Lis

 

Positive Outlook & Impact

The LeadUp Teacher approaches life and their work with a positive outlook. They throw kindness around like confetti and their impact is one of positivity. They believe and expect the best in others, approaching challenges with positive suppositions. They reframe obstacles as opportunities to innovate rather than seeing setbacks as overwhelming defeat. Or as LaVonna Roth explained it in her Ignite Your S.H.I.N.E. presentation at the What Great Educators Do Differently conference, They know “adversities are opportunities in disguise.” -Heidi

 

Passionate, Committed, & Purposefully Driven

“Purpose is the reason you journey. Passion is the fire that lights your way.” -Unknown

LeadUp Teachers are “fearless in the pursuit of what sets their soul on fire” -Jennifer Lee. They exude passion for their priorities which always center on PEOPLE first! They are committed to inspiring everyone in their sphere of influence, first and foremost their students, colleagues, and families. They see what they do as  both significant and life altering. Their passion to LeadUp is not accidental or random, but a calling that drives an unwavering, unending commitment to excellence! -Heidi

 

100% Student Focused

Doing what’s best for students is the only way a Lead Up Teacher knows how to work.

Their purpose is to make the world a better place one student at a time, one day at a time. Students are at the center of their purpose, passion, decisions, and classroom. They put the needs of their students ahead of their own comfort zones, expectations, and even plans. Students are the focus of the classroom and student learning takes center stage, priority #1. -Heidi

 

-ing the Status Quo (1)Each day we’re provided a new opportunity to make a difference in the lives of students and within our school community. Embracing the characteristics of a LeadUp Teacher has the potential to inspire passion to ignite within others, which empowers them to put forth their best. In this movement, how will you be an influencer who embraces the characteristics of a Leadup Teacher and sparks the spirit within others?

 

 

 


Elisabeth Bostwick is an innovative elementary educator in Horseheads,NY; Heidi Veal is a passionate Assistant Principal in McKinney, TX. Both ladies lead #Leadupteach, a movement dedicated to innovation and the empowerment of teacher leaders. 

Sacred Cows In Education

Sacred Cows

noun: someone or something that has been accepted or respected for a long time and that people are afraid or unwilling to criticize or question

 

What are the “Sacred Cows” in your school? School improvement teams write plans about curriculum and instruction, closing achievement gaps, school culture, teacher working conditions, school safety, professional development, intervention and support, and goals for supporting the whole child. In most schools, the sacred cows are not identified. Some teachers are afraid to question tradition. If a first year teacher questions a sacred cow, he or she feels pressure from the staff to avoid that topic in future faculty meetings.

 

Sacred cows come in all shapes and sizes. Teachers and administrators often avoid discussing sacred cows, due to the “Fear of Conflict” (Lencioni,Five Dysfunctions of a Team). Educators make statements such as, “That’s a state mandate or the last Superintendent made us keep that schedule.” School districts should follow state mandates and local procedures, but these excuses are often made without supporting evidence. It is easier to maintain the status quo than address our sacred cows.

 

It is true, as would-be reformers often argue, that statutes, policies, rules, regulations, contracts, and case law make it tougher than it should be for school and system leaders to drive improvement and, well, lead. However, it is also the case that leaders have far more freedom to transform, reimagine, and invigorate teaching, learning, and schooling than is widely believed (Hess, 2013).

 

Sacred Cows Include:

Assessment

Teachers and administrators cannot control mandated high-stakes testing. However, assessment throughout the school year is determined by the classroom teacher or teacher teams. Assessment should support student understanding and it should inform future instruction. If your school staff views assessment as multiple-choice only and feel like you have no control over how to assess students, you may have a sacred cow.

 

Collaboration

Traditionally, teachers have taught in isolation. District-led teams may write the curriculum and align standards, but teachers frequently close their door(s) and teach their curriculum. “When school staff have a more informed conception of curriculum, a teacher’s daily decisions about how to deliver instruction not only affect student achievement in that classroom but also future student achievement, for it is assumed that students will be entering the next classroom prepared to handle a more sophisticated or more expansive level of work” (Zmuda, Kuklis & Kline, 2004, p. 122). Several schools have implemented professional learning communities or learning teams. However, collaboration is still a sacred cow. Some teams still enter their weekly planning meeting without asking, “What are we collaborating about?”

 

Communication with Families and Stakeholders

In the 1970’s, a teacher would send a note home with a student. The parent would read and sign the note and return it to school the next day. School districts eventually moved to a weekly phone call. The phone call announces PTA meetings, school events, deadlines, and school highlights. The weekly phone call is still used in most school districts. When was the last time you conducted a survey or asked families how they would like to communicate? Schools can use a blog, Twitter, Facebook, a school app, and other strategies for sharing their message with families. Two-way communication provides families with the opportunity to ask questions and become more of a partner in their child’s education. The weekly phone call has become a Sacred Cow in some schools (See Weber, The Importance of Two-Way Communication).

 

Grading Practices

Does your school have a 10-point grading scale or a 7-point grading scale? While the grading scale is most likely mandated by state board policy or local board policy, there are options for grading student work, providing meaningful feedback, using rubrics, and communicating with families. If you want to address this sacred cow, a great place to begin is by reading and discussing A Repair Kit For Grading: Fifteen Fixes For Broken Grading (O’Connor, 2010). In most schools, each teacher develops their own grading system and it is confusing to students and families.

 

Homework

Homework is a sacred cow in education. Some content areas feel like nightly practice is required in order for students to grow and develop their skills. There are teachers who have not changed their homework assignments since 1990. Some teachers will argue that the pacing guide requires them to cover so much material that it cannot all be covered in class. When was the last time your staff had a professional conversation about homework? It is a conversation worth having.

 

Learning Space

Education is changing at a rapid pace. One thing that is often overlooked in education is the learning space. Learning space is determined by adults in most schools. The way learning space is organized highlights what the adults in a school value. Some schools value a safe and orderly/structured environment. A recent visit to one school showed an obvious preference to outdoor learning and project based learning.

 

School administrators often focus on state mandates and local goals such as standards, assessment, positive behavior intervention, student safety, technology integration, family involvement, reading programs, or closing achievement gaps. These are all important and require intentionality by principals and district leaders. In addition to all of the state and local requirements, learning space could change teaching and learning. If teachers and administrators took time to reflect on the importance of design, purpose, and space, they may find that the old structure is a barrier to student achievement. Is learning space a sacred cow or do teachers discuss how the space could be transformed?

 

Professional Development

Professional development should be valued by teachers and administrators, but many dread an early release day or a summer institute. Why do lifelong learners dread professional development? In many school districts, professional development has become a “Flavor or the Month,” “Silver Bullets for Teachers,” or “State Mandates You Should Know.”

 

Teachers across the United States are flocking to Edcamp for professional development, Twitter Chats, and Voxer. How can schools change professional development to meet the needs of teachers and administrators? Edcamp begins with the participants identifying topics they want to discuss. This seems to be the most effective way to address a sacred cow. If the topic is on the minds of teachers and it is having an impacting on teaching and learning, then it should be addressed. Most teachers do not receive professional credit for participating in Twitter Chats, but they see this as a form of collaboration and teacher voice. Schools and school districts could use Twitter chats as a form of professional development. Voxer allows the science teachers from the middle school to communicate with the science teachers from the high school. Most school districts still have two annual meetings where the science teachers share ideas and instructional strategies. It seems like curriculum alignment efforts and mentoring younger teachers could take place in real time if Voxer groups were developed. Teachers are often afraid to challenge professional development at the district level, because they feel that it will never change. Brainstorm a list of ways that professional development could change and how you would like to learn as a professional.

 

School Schedule

Can’t Touch This! (oh-oh oh oh oh-oh-oh)! The school schedule may have the greatest impact on teaching and learning. In some schools, the principal makes the school schedule. The school scheduling committee may have a voice in other schools. Does your school have a traditional schedule or a block schedule? Does the schedule meet the needs of the students? When is intervention time scheduled during the regular school day? When do teachers have time for common planning and assessing student work? Does the school lunch schedule dictate the instructional schedule? School scheduling needs to be addressed. There are consultants who can provide your staff with important items to consider. Typically, schools copy and paste last year’s schedule without asking important questions. Stephen Covey addressed “BIG Rocks” as our priorities. Does your school schedule reflect the priorities listed in your school improvement plan?

 

Summer School

Does a two-week summer school provide students with enough intervention and support to advance to the next grade level? What does research tell us about summer school? Is our school using technology to support student understanding? Is summer school used as a punishment for not completing assignments or is it seen as intervention and support? Do the teachers have a summer school curriculum or does each teacher get paid a stipend to create their own curriculum? How do we know that summer school is effective? The goal of this article is not to eliminate summer school, but to raise questions about the purpose of summer school. Summer school is a sacred cow. School districts have traditionally offered summer school as a way to support struggling students. When you have a sacred cow, staff should ask an important question, “Is it working?”

 

Questions for School Staff To Consider:

1.  What are the “Sacred Cows” in our school?

2. When do we plan to schedule time to discuss the “Sacred Cows”?

3.  Is it unsafe to address “Sacred Cows” in our school?

4.  What is the protocol for discussing “Sacred Cows”?

5.  Are there “Sacred Cows” that are preventing our school from supporting all students?

 


Steven Weber is the Executive Director of Curriculum and Instruction with Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools in North Carolina. For further reading by Steven 

The Domino Effect

Today’s post is written by Heidi Veal, a passionate educator who serves as an assistant principal for an early childhood school in McKinney, TX.

 

When was the last time you arranged dominoes just for the fun of watching them fall down, one-onto-the-other, collapsing the line into a neatly bowed-down design? For me, I was a child when I last played with dominoes this way. For some, arranging dominoes goes far beyond hobby status, taking it to professional levels at international competitions and exhibitions.

 

Take a moment to think about the cause-effect action of dominoes descending onto themselves. A person carefully arranges the dominoes with meaning behind each placement, expecting and understanding that when they all fall down, their landing is intentional because they were purposefully placed. The end product is a pattern reflecting thoughtful planning and precise execution. It is a work of art for the creator, a thing of wonder to watch!

 

How does this connect with leadership you ask? Consider the image of the arranged, descending, and static fallen dominos through a leadership lense. Proactive, collaborative, and transparent leaders take into account what I will call The Domino Effect. They see their impact not as a singular event, but more so as a chain reaction.

Domino Effect 1

These leaders carefully measure how one decision affects the entire system. They have the awareness to anticipate how the fall of the first domino, ie the first action, affects outcomes further down the road and thus, plan accordingly. These leaders understand their work is possible with the collaboration, trust, amplification, and momentum of their team. Stakeholders are included, decisions are made with forethought, the yield is a work of excellence, and all who are involved share in the victories!

 

Qualities of those who lead with an understanding of The Domino Effect

 

Arranging… Proactive in his/her approach, the leader arranges in a way that maximizes desired outcomes for all stakeholders. Arranging means the leader anticipates missed connections, reflects on past mistakes and misses, tests parts of the system, takes into account how one placement or change impacts the arrangement/community at large, and foresees difficulty down the way. They effectively and efficiently arrange as a result of listening and receiving feedback. Finally, they know powerful arrangement efforts are only possible through collaborative efforts with those on their team.

 

Setting Into Motion… By maximizing collaboration, the leader has a WE, not me, approach to the critical work at hand. This involves bringing together a team, listening and communicating through the process, empowering others to set the pieces in motion together, celebrating the team’s accomplishments, and interdependently working to achieve desired results.

 

Assessing the Outcomes … Transparent, Responsive, Responsible, and Reflective. These are all words that come to mind when thinking of a leader who understands The Domino Effect. When missteps happen, the leader is responsive as opposed to aloof. Outcomes, such as the falling of the dominoes, are carefully anticipated. The leader understands that the fall of the first domino effects the fall of the final one too. Therefore, knee jerk decisions are avoided and decisions are made collaboratively. Reflection is a critical component in the process of assessing outcomes. The leader seeks feedback, carefully listens to it and takes it to heart, and responds to the feedback with a growth mindset perspective.

Domino Effect 2

 

What happens when The Domino Effect goes awry? Something very unsettling. As can be imagined, things do not turn out well! In short, a mess results! I learned recently from, of all places, a YouTube video more about the physics of falling dominos. A falling domino can knock over another domino about one and a half times larger than itself. Imagine the implications of this scientific truth as a metaphor for leadership!  

 

A decision has the potential to have a positive OR negative impact one and a half times larger than itself! Consider what happens when a decision is made without considering the outcome. The entire system could be corrupted. The phrase “It’s All Connected” immediately comes to mind. Leaders cannot think that they make decisions in a vacuum or rely on a “Because I said so” approach. Leaders in tune with The Domino Effect see the connections and lead with an understanding of the impact of their decisions.

 

When it comes to leadership, The Domino Effect is a real thing. The professionals who fill our organizations are talented and committed. They deserve leaders who lead with The Domino Effect in mind.

 

To read more by Heidi