Sunday, July 29, 2018

Your stairway lies on the whispering wind (Led Zeppelin)

Photo by Jon Tyson on Unsplash
Weirdly, I've heard Stairway to Heaven twice on the radio in the last week.

Seems to me it's a song about searching. Searching for the ideal, the mythical, the unobtainable, But it's an honest search. A worthwhile and laudable search.

Our lives are like that, and part of my life, a big part, is the search for doing what I can do better as a leader.

This morning, my students gave me a good lesson in persistence. Fittingly, while searching for a photo. 

Somehow, a class photo had slid between two parts of a couch in the Learning Centre. Many theories were advanced and tried. But without success.

It seemed a hopeless case and rather than wreck the couch getting to the photo I thought it best to pay for a new photo (they'd just been handed out so it wasn't a tragedy and not difficult to pay 15 dollars for another copy).

My students threw back at me my 'never give up, never surrender' mantra. It took 30 minutes but together with me operating a crowbar and them devising a sticky tape ruler device - we snared the photo.

Cue - much - 'see Mr P, you should have been more positive' comments.

Quite right they were, too. Quite right!

Tuesday, July 24, 2018

I'm still not sure what part I play, in this shadow play (Rory Gallagher)

Photo by Jack Finnigan on Unsplash
This shadowing lark has got me thinking.

How do I make the most of this situation for myself and for my incoming interim replacement?

It's 2018 - so I googled 'shadowing'.

As a consequence, some helpful suggestions popped up:

  • Tell the shadow about myself – my own education and career path, and my style of leadership
  • Explain the school ethos in general 
  • Take the shadow on a tour – introduce him to co-workers, show him around the office or site, and give an overview of what the work environment is like 
  • Set aside time for him to intentionally ask questions about the job and organisation
  • Show the shadow how I work – allow him to observe daily tasks as much as possible, such as specific projects, staff/parent/student meetings, routines like Thursday reports   
  • Suggest next action steps – guide the shadow toward more resources (human or otherwise)

I'm up for this experience but key to it working well will be the shadow's attitude. I've met plenty of senior managers who don't listen well, don't actually want to listen (thinking they are the complete bee's knees), or who don't engage with the process (for whatever reason).

Time will tell how this one works out!

Thursday, July 19, 2018

Trust your feelings Luke (Obi Wan Kenobi)

The end of the middle of the end: now it's down to only a couple of weeks before leaving my current school.

The beginning was the last few weeks of Term 2, the middle has been the two week term break about to be concluded. The end will be the first few weeks of Term 3.

Two and a half weeks will go fast, particularly as an interim Principal has been assigned and will be shadowing me after week one.

An interesting concept, one I've not experienced before.

It should be interesting for us both. I don't plan on doing anything different during that time - he'll have to accept my version of Principalship as it is, and, for my staff's sake, I'm hoping his style will be compatible with that.

If not, they (staff and students and parents) may be in for a bumpy ride for the rest of the term. Then of course, they will all need to adjust to a new permanent Principal in Term 4.

None of this fills me with joy. Nothing about it is ideal. Because the English academic year starts in September, it's a necessary true fact: I need to be in England half way through NZ's year 😟

Saturday, July 14, 2018

It's a holiday in Cambodia. It's tough, kid, but it's life (Dead Kennedys)

Holidays mean a slackening off in professional reading, and many of my staff have been posting lovely images of themselves on holiday in Cambodia, the Philippines, Thailand and elsewhere.

Besides that my brain is full, thanks to a busy term, and a busy first holiday week with packing and storing all our precious belongings before we head to England.

So, all up, I'm not that inclined to do any deep thinking about the current state of education in the world.

It's time for a break, so here's something else for all my dog loving staff:

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Walk this way! (Run DMC)

Photo by Mark Hayward on Unsplash
According to Jim Kouzes and Barry Posner The Five Practices of Exemplary Leadership® are:

  1. Model the way.
  2. Inspire shared vision.
  3. Challenge the process.
  4. Enable people to act.
  5. Encourage the Heart.
Without fact checking the source, I'm happy to see 'Model the way' as the lead out batter to the list.

Dovetailing as it does with the authenticity I wrote about last time, being what you want to see is crucial (Mahatma Gandhi knew what he was talking about).

And that means an exemplary leader's character is on the line.

Otherwise you're a hypocrite who pretends to have virtues, moral beliefs, principles that you do not actually possess.

And who wants to follow a leader like that?

Thursday, July 5, 2018

Why (Yoko Ono)

When does experience trump ability?

Short answer: only when special skills are needed immediately to make a coffee right now!! 

Yes, I'm thinking about a barista or, maybe a McDonald's burger flipper. Nope, come to think of it, even I could flip a burger!

A forklift driver? Another 'No' - robots do that now. Hmm - actually, it's probably only a barista. 

Everything else: we learn on the job, or near the job. After all, that's where experience comes from right?

My first Principal ship came after I'd been a Deputy Principal. The two are vastly different jobs, let me tell you!!

A friend of mine, Pablo Honey from Psychedelic High, recently lost out on a job because the other applicant (Doug Field) had some specific experience in his resume.


Are we not educating our students to have 21st century soft skills?
  • Strong Work Ethic
  • Positive Attitude
  • Good Communication Skills
  • Time Management Abilities
  • Problem-Solving Skills
  • Acting as a Team Player
  • Self-Confidence
  • Ability to Accept and Learn From Criticism
  • Emotional Intelligence
An emphatic, 'Yes! We are' is heard resounding from the blogosphere.

Doesn't that apply to adults as well??

I know I want an employee who is all of those things. Then, if I need her to train as a barista, I know she will embrace the experience and excel.

So why of why would Pablo, the better prospect in all of those skills, not be successful?

Riddle me that!!

Sunday, July 1, 2018

Start again (Richie McCaw)

That's a great, succinct life lesson from Richie. In his All Black context it was a case of reminding himself that he had to prove himself again, and again, every day.

Legacy, the book about applying lessons from the All Blacks to business and life by James Kerr, had been sitting on my shelf at school for a year before I read it.

It was worth the wait.

Here are some bookmarks from my reading:

The truth is that the story we tell about our life becomes the story of our life. The narrative we tell our team, business, brand, organisation or family becomes the story others eventually tell about us. 
"I believe that leadership begins and ends with authenticity, It's being yourself, being the person you were created to be" - Harvard Business School professor Bill George.

These are interesting and relevant thoughts for me, following on from my previous post about new starts, first impressions, and relentless positivity.

The lesson is simple: be authentic (a lesson I've learned over the years - staff, students and parent can easily see when you're not being yourself).