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We Don't Have to be Nutella

communication courageous Jan 10, 2022

by Aubrey Patterson

 

Do you find yourself saying yes to helping people when deep down you know you should say no?

Taking care of others isn't just something remarkable leaders like doing; it's in their DNA.

The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others. (Mahatma Gandhi)

We're wired to say yes as individuals and it's natural that we want a culture where everyone is eager to support one another.

We Don't Have to Be Nutella

It can be really difficult to say no.

We can still lose ourselves in the service of others by saying no to those few who go beyond our values or what we've determined as key priorities.

A gracious decline isn't a rejection of the person. It's a recognition that you don't have the energy for this right now. (Adam Grant)

Whether real-life or social media, chasing likes can only be exhausting.

And shouldn't leaders make decisions based upon principles and not preferences?

We don’t have to be ...

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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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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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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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It All Starts … and Ends With YOU

by Melody Stacy

 

A positive leader, in the purest form, is someone who influences the people and environment around them for the better.

We all want to be such a leader and, on our best days, are actively seeking ways to continually improve and amplify our impact.  

We are all capable of being powerful change agents within our organizations. Eliminating blame, victim thinking, complaining, and procrastination are all important in our personal and work lives.

Interested in actionable steps to help break the ever-so-easy, downward spiral that we can get caught in and instead lead a more impactful and rewarding life?

In the long run, we shape our lives, and we shape ourselves. The process never ends until we die. And the choices we make are ultimately our own responsibility.

- Eleanor Roosevelt

Holding ourselves accountable to asking the opportunity-driven, rather than incorrect, questions will ensure results and move us forward on our path to greatness. In the book, QBQ!...

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Crabs in a Bucket

compassionate courageous Sep 14, 2021

by Aubrey Patterson

 

There’s an interesting phenomenon that plays out when a number of live crabs find themselves in a bucket. If alone, most crabs could easily pull themselves up and out of their current situation, but once in a group, their natural inclination is thwarted by other crabs who pull them down.  

This certainly can seem cruel and it might well be. A slightly more optimistic perspective is that the crabs act in this manner out of ignorance, and they are pulling on anything in a desperate situation. 

Crabs in a bucket syndrome is analogous to toxic culture. It takes little thought to tie the analogy to the jealousies, thoughtless actions, and harsh words that can infect mindsets and pull down individuals and organizations. 

Eventually, everyone loses in a culture that insists upon operating from the lowest common denominator.

But we aren’t crabs. 

 It’s better to light one small candle than to curse the darkness....

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The Best Research is Me-search

by Aubrey Patterson

 

I know in my heart there's got to be a better way!

Do you too often land on this thought while lying awake in bed at 2 am, after a long day or dealing with some tough issues?

This is the kind of non-researched cardiac assessment we all do.

Much like real medical assessments, middle-of-the-night cardiac assessments for educational leaders can be painful yet lead to brighter days.  

The best research is me-search

Unfortunately, much impactful creativity begins with a breaking point, digging into a problem that’s eating at us, and finding a solution. 

We don’t really do our best work when we know the answers, but instead when we need the answers. 

These same axioms apply to the problems we encounter in our organizations. 

Most great answers, pathways, and systems begin with a healthy dose of cognitive dissonance and an even healthier supply of humility.

Leaders are not discovered in the limelight; (they) gain...

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Carefronting

by Melody Stacy

 

When your school culture is all about positivity and that magical mixture of love and high expectations, there needs to be a certain amount of healthy conflict to combat artificial harmony and ensure the forces of mediocrity aren’t winning. 

 Carefronting

In the last several years, our school has developed compelling and connected core values, vision, mission, and goals, but we've also found ourselves, at times, a bit love-heavy and unknowingly, and with good intentions, playing too nice.

As our teacher voice team was reading The Five Dysfunctions of a Team by Patrick Lencioni, we completed the team assessment activity and found the results confirmed what we suspected. We were really, really strong on the first three layers of the team pyramid (trust, conflict, and commitment) and our weakest area was in accountability. Our need to avoid interpersonal discomfort was preventing team members from holding each other accountable for...

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Smooth Stones Take Time

by Aubrey Patterson

 

It sure would be wonderful if we could avoid the bumps, bruises, and pain that comes with growing, right? 

Or would it?

Unprecedented Times

Certainly, what we’ve experienced in recent times is unprecedented. There isn't any class or internship to prepare a leader for all this pandemic has presented.

Warm demander leaders enhance the culture in difficult times by being compassionate, constructive, and courageous.

If there is no struggle, there is no progress. (Frederick Douglass)

In good times, we don't move until we're uncomfortable, much like we might wait until we're actually shivering before we put on a sweater. Often, some of our best results come from discomfort or even pain. 

Every problem introduces a person to himself. (John McDonnell)

Smooth Stones

Imagine a rapidly flowing river replete with jagged rocks on the edge and smooth stones under the surface. 

The stones are worn down by bumping up against one another and the water...

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