Are You a School Leader if You Don’t Influence?
Bosses have titles. Leaders build influence.
Bill Hybels often teaches on the concept of moving an organization ¨from here to there.¨ This is the essential quality of a leader as a vision caster.
A school leader should do two things to communicate how he plans on moving an organization forward.
First illustrate the current reality of the organization. The purpose is to ground everyone in reality. Be clear and factual. The organization should have a sense that it can accomplish more.
Then, vividly describe where the organization is going.
Sounds easy, right?
A school leader can avoid merely inspiring and actually drive change by addressing each component of the actionable items shared in this post.
The purpose of this list to highlight 5 actionable items school leaders can use to build influence. The following posts will go into a deeper dive of each section.
Build Influence – Inspire
Two points here.
First, have you clearly and passionately articulated where the organization is headed? Is it clear that this place will be better then the current place where the organization is operating?
More importantly, have you inspired by using what Simon Sinek would call “starting with the why”?
Essentially, he calls school leaders to inspire by describing why the organization exists. What is the organizations purpose? What does the leader believe?
Build Influence – Build Trust
Influence that is lasting is impossible without trust. According to Patrick Lencioni, trust is the foundation of a high-performing team. On the flip-side, an absence of trust can lead to a whole host of organizational dysfunction. His idea can be described like this:
absence of trust >>> fear of conflict >>> lack of commitment >>> avoidance of accountability >>> inattention to results.
School leaders will struggle to gain influence if they are more focused on results prior to trust.
Build Influence – Communicate and Communicate Some More
Do you think you are communicating enough? Probably not. Teacher’s often think in the classroom, “I taught that, my students should have learned it.” I see this as a frequent leadership mistake. School leaders think, “I already communicated that (once).”
Maybe you sent an email on a topic and think that is sufficient. It’s not. Email is efficient, not necessarily effective. Communication is best when it is short and sweet. In my experience, infrequent bulky emails do not work.
Finally, communication is best face-to-face. Again, it should be direct and to the point while also respectful.
Build Influence – Admit Mistakes
One of the most common errors that should be easy to avoid is to admit when you are wrong! Nothing is worse than being perceived as a pompous (you know what). School leaders are bound to make mistakes. It’s okay. The saying goes, “to err is human,” right? Few things erode trust faster than pretending you’re always right or not fessing up when everyone (including you) knows you’re wrong.
Build Influence – Be Authentic.
Stop trying to be someone you’re not. Be who you were made to be. School leaders often find themselves in trouble and alone when they are inauthentic.
When I was a first year teacher I so badly wanted to be like the 8th grade SS teacher. In my novice’s view of his class, I thought that he had it all. He was ex-military. His kids lined outside (in a straight line!) literally starting where the blue taped x was located outside his door. They did not enter until he welcomed them in the classroom. The students never talked in his class. I tried to be like him for a few days. It didn’t work; it’s not my style or personality. I was destined to fail at being someone else. The authenticity of a school leader is destined to build trust.
- Write down the “why” the organization exists. Post it and communicate it frequently.
- Do what you say you are going to do. Don’t say “yes” because it’s easy. Only say “yes” to what is most important and follow through.
- Leave the office and go communicate face to face what you were about to send over email because it was easier.
- Make a list of transgressions. Go and make amends with all people on your list.
- Consider taking the Strength Finders 2.0 assessment. Reflect on your top 5 strengths. Focus on your strengths and build a team that supports your weaknesses.
In my opinion, the best school leaders reflect and make adjustments. Life is about growing. The most satisfied individuals I know are content because their frequent reflection and adjustments have allowed them to identify all the progress they’ve experienced.
In an individual’s life, progress creates satisfaction. In an organization, progress helps a school leader build influence.
Of the 5 actionable items written about in today’s post, which do you struggle with the most? I’d love to hear responses in the comments.
Daniel E. Bauer
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I teach leadership skills through a data-driven and emotionally healthy approach that gets others to perform their best.
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“influence” by Sean MacEntee licensed via CC 2.0