You can never change your culture leading in a traditional way. Here’s what works.

Photo by Huper by Joshua Earle on Unsplash

The traditional way of leading:

  • The leader knows best and has all the answers.
  • The leader works in isolation.
  • The leader is a productivity “machine” knocking out countless tasks per day.
  • The leader prioritizes their people’s growth before their own.

That “traditional” way of leading no longer works.

There is a better path.

Empowered people create magic and are able to accomplish the impossible.

“Most people think leadership is about being in charge. Most people think leadership is about having all the answers and being the most intelligent person or the most qualified person in the room. The irony is that it is the complete opposite. Leadership is about empowering others to achieve things they did not think possible. Leadership is about pointing in the direction, articulating a vision of the world that does not yet exist. Then asking help from others to insure that vision happens.”

-Simon Sinek

When you start off as a leader, everyone comes to you for the answers and this sense of being needed is addicting.

I get it. I love being reminded of how important I am.

The problem: it limits what my organization can accomplish. We train our staff on how we operate (as an individual leader and as an organization). When everyone looks to you for the solution, it is a mistake not to empower our people.

In every organization, the leader is both the greatest opportunity and the greatest challenge.

Choose today to stop being the bottleneck.

Ask for help and empower others to be brilliant.

Let their successes satisfy you more than your sense of importance.

If you can do that, then you are able to do the impossible.

Focus on significant versus urgent to increase your leadership impact

“Realize all the things you are doing that are not taking you where you really want to go … Until you accomplish your next most significant priority, everything else is a distraction. That brings us to the critical question you have to always be asking yourself: “Is what I’m doing right now the next most Significant use of my time?” Is it the thing that is moving you toward creating the best results? Is it the thing that is moving you toward making your greatest contribution? Is it the thing that is moving you toward making the impact you want to make?”

-Rory Vaden

This is an incredibly busy season of life for me right now. I’m sure you can relate.

In fact, it’s been so stressful I almost just laid down on the floor and had a breakdown. The to-do list is piled high with so much stuff that needs to get done, I feel its weight on my chest.

Not good.

To escape this burden, I need to focus on my next step and then the next. But not just any step.

I want to be intentional with my actions today. I want to leap versus just step.

I want to focus on the significant and prioritize that over the urgent.

So I slowed everything down and did a brain dump. Good, now it was all out of my head and on paper. I felt a bit of relief.

Then I went old school. I wrote out my day’s activities and calendar on a notecard. I closed all tabs and apps on my computer and focused on one task.

No email. No social media.

Each major thing I needed to do today I prioritized for morning work before the day got out of control.

I have to prioritize the most important work in the morning. The urgent can wait until later. I have more significant work to do.

Invest in your own growth so that everyone wins.

“When the principal sneezes the whole school gets a cold.”

-Todd Whitaker

At Better Leaders Better Schools we have a saying:

“Everyone wins when a leader gets better. Everyone wins when you get better.”

As a principal you have incredible influence on your school. Systems are designed perfectly for the results that are experienced. If you are unhappy with the results, you don’t have to look far to identify the problem. Just walk into your bathroom and stare in the mirror.

According to a 2020 study by NAESP and Learning Policy Institute, only 23% of principals had access to a coach or mentor in the last two years (only 10% of principals who serve in a high-poverty district had access to a coach or principal).

In terms of making education better, this won’t cut it.

One of the easiest ways to improve your school is to improve yourself. Read a book, then another one. Even better if the book is from outside your discipline.

“I notice that when all a man’s information is confined to the field in which he is working, the work is never as good as it ought to be. A man has to get perspective, and he can get it from books or from people — preferably from both.”

-Harvey Firestone

Go to a conference. Hire a coach. Join a mastermind.

Whatever you do, prioritize your own self-development. Your community is counting on you to be better this year. You can do it!

Ready to Level Up?

I’m hosting a FREE, 90-minute webinar on the topic of my “Remarkable Vision Formula: 3 Steps to a Remarkable Life, Remarkable Family, and Remarkable School.”

Register for the webinar today!

Host of the Better Leaders Better Schools podcast with over one million downloads 🚀