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Let's Brighten 2022!

by Melody Stacy and Aubrey Patterson 

 

It’s that time of year.

A time for deep introspection.

A time for a celebration of the hopeful optimism of all that’s possible in the new year.

Interwoven into the fabric of all great leaders is an unrelenting commitment to be even better. What naturally follows is reflection and unwrapping how we’ve performed as leaders.

As we consider where we are in our leadership journey, it’s tempting to start setting goals for the new year since we’re conditioned to measure “all the things.”

But this year, we may want to focus on setting our identity rather than setting new goals.

Ask what kind of leader you hope to be. There is powerful inertia in this reframe.

Do you want to become a great leader? We can begin by being a leader who…

is compassionate, showing curiosity and seeking to understand;
 is constructive, being intentional with our time;
is courageous, modelling and building...

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Freeway Builders

Uncategorized Dec 28, 2021

by Aubrey Patterson

 

We sometimes come across people who want and very much need to build new habits, but worry about developing systems and routines that might stifle their creativity.

It's been our experience that the opposite is true; effective systems lead to us having the time, energy, and peace of mind to embrace a growth mindset.

Systems are like freeways

What we become is very often the result of what we do today.

Thus, our level of success is determined by daily actions. Success, doesn’t just suddenly happen and neither does failure. Each is a cumulative process. Every day is preparation for the next.

Our habits and routines matter.

Everything worthwhile in life — everything you want, everything you desire to achieve, everything you want to receive — is uphill. The problem is that most of us have uphill dreams but downhill habits.  John Maxwell

Although there's no firm distinction, we generally think of systems as encompassing...

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Make it Easy for Them to Hire You

communication impact tips Dec 20, 2021

by Aubrey Patterson

 

Are you updating a cover letter and resume for an upcoming dream position?

Most applications are now requested and submitted online. Seems easy enough.

Here's a tip to avoid one of the biggest mistakes you might make when applying for this dream position.

Make it easy for them to hire you.

Have you ever printed a number of similar-looking items and had to put them in the proper order? Perhaps it was a year of utility bills for taxes or a pile of medical receipts that needed to be itemized for reimbursement? Think about the time and care it took you to get them in their proper order.

Now consider how little time an admin assistant or secretary has when printing attachments received in an application package.

How will your hard work be ordered and represented in the short-listing meeting?

What package will be sitting in front of the members of the interview committee if you get to that final step in the hiring process?

A Simple Solution

Email is a common...

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Leading with Gratitude

by Aubrey Patterson

 

Early in life, most of us are taught to count our blessings, but this lesson all too often fails to become a habit. When calamity knocks on our door, many of us are not accustomed to acknowledging the good that still surrounds us.

We should certainly count our blessings, but we should also make our blessings count. (Neal A. Maxwell)

Luckily, gratitude is a muscle we can exercise.

Leading with Gratitude

Gratitude and optimism work hand in glove; we can learn to be thankful for the past and present while hoping for something better in the future.

But gratitude and optimism are not equally effective as strategies.

Leading with gratitude increases the likelihood that we inspire thoughtful conversations and compelling action. While optimism is critical to goal-setting and wonderful for visioning, gratitude has a better chance of surfacing our exciting next steps.

Gratitude is one of the few things in life that simply cannot be overdone.

People feel and express...

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What is Your Team Saying to Those Closest to Them?

by Melody Stacy

 

What do conversations at holiday family gatherings have to do with our school cultures? And how do they inform us as leaders?

Imagine any number of these exchanges. What do you hear?

Adoration of the youngest, questions about the health of the oldest, updates on recent relationships, and hobbies are sure to be on the greatest hits.

And inevitably comes the question, "So how is your work going?"

Full stop.

Because the answer that follows matters. And it matters a great deal to those of us leading.

What your team is saying to those closest to them is the true test of your culture.

You might be thinking, "But I'm not at those events. How do I know what they're saying?"

If we listen closely, we'll hear.

Are our team members saying things like this?

Gosh, my work is difficult, but my team is energetic and supportive. And I love working alongside them!

 My principal sure does expect a lot, but you know what? I feel valued and I know she believes in me?

 ...

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Clarity and a Kind Voice

by Aubrey Patterson

 

Of course, the scenario you're about to read is all too familiar, but are you fortunate enough to know someone who leads like Carla?

Like a Duck

The day is just beginning and the telephones are lighting up.

Line 1: A teacher is calling in sick.

Line 2: An angry parent.

A whimper and crying eyes staring up: A little one is seeking an ice pack.

A tap on the shoulder: The new teacher asking where to find a student’s file.

This would be an awfully eventful two minutes for most.

Carla politely puts the teacher on hold and pages the assistant principal; she then offers a kind greeting and exquisite manners to a slightly confused and well-meaning mom; gives a hug and an ice pack to poor little Michael (while offering a silent thank you to her principal for the phone headset); and gives wide-eyes and a smile while mouthing, “just a sec” to the teacher waiting for that file.

With every action and word, Carla communicates compassion,...

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A More Thoughtful Yes or No

by Aubrey Patterson

 

Have you noticed how it's become very popular in social media to encourage us to say "no" to anything new?

Build and fortify boundaries. Guard them fiercely with a no.

We all get this. None of us are tone deaf to the emotions that accompany the uncertainty and fears in recent times.

And truth be told, we proudly subscribe to the hell yeah or no! framework of Derek Sivers. We also coach leaders using the cliché if you never say "no", what's the value of your yes?"

No rarely does harm.

No offers a measure of control to a day that seems increasingly out of control.

However, this emphasis on the power of no makes it more likely that our skepticism or fatigue will cloud new opportunities.

It's becoming far too easy to stop listening to that inner voice that might otherwise be attuned to a propitious idea.

When opportunity comes, it’s too late to prepare. (John Wooden)

Every opportunity comes with challenges. And those challenges are...

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Empowerment can’t be taken away

constructive courageous Nov 15, 2021

by Aubrey Patterson

 

A leader who doesn't empower people to dig into issues or take the time to build commitment almost always creates a culture of parking lot conversations and hallways filled with whispered negativity.

Power illuminates strengths and weaknesses in areas that can be improved, like skills and tasks. And it also illuminates those things ingrained in leaders that are very likely to never change like empathy, integrity, and engagement.

With great power comes great responsibility. (Voltaire)

It can be difficult to identify those who have the qualities necessary to both pursue and nurture an exceptional culture.

The founders of Western Philosophy (Socrates, Aristotle, and Plato) subscribed to a belief wherein the few wisest should be permitted to rule. One problem is, of course, gaining agreement on who is the wisest.

But even if we could choose the wisest leaders, what if the person with power lacks integrity or is simply an unkind or apathetic person?

Herein lies...

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A How to Match Our Why

by Aubrey Patterson

 

Jerry walked into the new principal's office and nonchalantly offered a leadership gem that would reframe every future conversation in the school about mission, vision, and values.

He shared a huge smile and opened with a simple, "I'm Jerry."

The new principal returned the smile, introduced himself, and asked awkwardly, “I’m sorry, Jerry, but what do you do?”

Jerry's face brightened even more. “I help the kids learn by keeping things clean around here and making sure everyone can safely get around."

A how to match our why.

How many adults in our schools could finish this stem?

I help kids learn by ____.

Perhaps we want to include part of our current mission statement and let each adult complete a sentence that ties them to the why of the school or district?

I help kids learn and become an exceptional citizen in a vibrant school by _____.

Shouldn’t everyone working in education be able to easily complete these statements?

...
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It’s complicated … or is it?

by Melody Stacy

 

Are you ready for a pop quiz?

No?

Good. It wouldn’t be a pop quiz if you were.

Ready or not, here we go ...

  1. As school leaders, should we love our staff or have high expectations for them?
  2. Should we be the confident leaders in our school or should we have empowered teachers?
  3. As a team, should we celebrate our accomplishments or succumb to a sense of urgency to improve?
  4. Should we approach our work tightly aligned to our vision and goals or give loose autonomy for people be themselves?

Did you have a hard time choosing?

Good. That's the point.

As leaders, we are faced with countless decisions bringing infinite implications every day. Many of those decisions seem very complex and often seem to force a choice between contradictory options.

The most important aspects of our work don't fit into nice, neat checkboxes.

What if embracing the paradox could bring about freedom and clarity while helping us pursue greatness?

When we are comfortable mired in...

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