Proactive Leadership: Everything is Not an Emergency

“One of the true tests of leadership is the ability to recognize a problem before it becomes an emergency.” -Arnold Glasgow

As parents of young boys (3 and 7) we have experienced our fair share of accidents, resulting in screaming, crying, and calling out for us. As a young parent you respond to every emergency because well, you just don’t know better. In the mind of a child everything is important, everything matters right now – “it’s an emergency because I think it is.” As our boys have gotten older and we have gotten wiser we have learned when to respond. Also we have tried to come alongside our boys and teach them they are not helpless, to be resilient, and not just react when they are hurt or upset.

Likewise I want to apply this same lens as a campus leader. As a leader I am challenged in this new year to see my leadership less about solving every emergency that happens with my students or staff but instead about helping them to be proactive problem solvers. In doing so, we communicate a strong message – I trust and respect your brain enough to figure this out. Now, don’t get me wrong, I don’t believe in abandonment, instead being a coach to that struggling student or staff team member. If we don’t approach our leadership in this way we find ourselves always deeply invested in owning every problem and only reacting as they arise. This creates a very unhealthy school culture when we model for our school that the only time anything gets our attention is when it is broke.

We provide leadership when we recognize there is a problem and attempt to help our students or teams steer through it themselves but not grabbing the steering wheel. We undermine the very capacity we are attempting to increase when we must be the problem solver all the time. We respect ourselves and others when we look objectively at a problem and offer solution based insights.

Consider Asking…

Tell me what you have tried? Have you considered? What do you think may result if…? What do you think you might do to solve the problem? 

As a school leader it is challenging to feel like you have to provide all the answers…stop…you don’t. Instead pivot and become a great questioner to help others solve their problems.

What do you think?

-Jeff

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