Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Sustainable Leadership

One of the new challenges of my role at ASB over the past few years is mentoring and coaching the people who report directly to me.  For example in the tech department there are two educational technology specialists, both of whom have degrees in IT or computer science, but neither of whom have ever worked in a school before.  They are young millennial women who have chosen to work in tech, and I really want to encourage them to go further in this field.

Another group that this could equally apply to is our tech integration coaches.  These are all full-time teachers who have shown an interest in taking on more of a leading role in technology.  I'm really aware that at some stage in the past I was given an amazing opportunity to leave my job as a homeroom teacher and to work alongside someone to learn to be a technology specialist.  At the end of that year, when he left, I was easily able to step into his shoes.  In the same way I really want to create a system of sustainable leadership, so that when the day comes that I leave ASB, everything keeps ticking along well.  This, to me, is a real measure of leadership - to create other leaders.  I want to get to the point where I make myself redundant and can follow other paths.

Something I've been reading recently is about situational leadership.  This looks at the relationship between leaders and followers.  In the book Triggers, Marshall Goldsmith describes it in the following way (which I see as a sort of continuum):
  • Directing - this is for employees requiring a lot of specific guidance about how to complete tasks.  It involves giving step-by-step directions and is mostly a one-way conversation.
  • Coaching - this is for employees who still need guidance but who want to grow and learn, but here it includes more two-way dialogue.  For example as well as giving directions, you could also ask what the person thinks about this.
  • Supporting - this is for those employees who have developed the skills to complete the task but who lack confidence.  Here there is a minimum amount of direction, and more questioning of the employee about how she or he thinks the task should be done and what help s/he needs.
  • Delegating - this is for employees who are motivated, skilled and confident.  They know what needs to be done, how to do it, and can do it on their own.  
As I enter my 5th year at ASB I hope that most of what I am doing is supporting and delegating. How about you?  What do you spend most of your time doing as a leader?

Photo Credit: Cabinet Office via Compfight cc

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