Wednesday, September 29, 2021

Lead Like Ted Lasso

I'm on the Ted Lasso bandwagon!! 

Have you heard of or been watching the series on AppleTV+ called Ted Lasso? It's in it's second season, and my husband and I recently started watching it. I think we binge-watched season 1 in a weekend, and now we're caught up in season 2 and have to wait for the weekly episodes. (What is it about binge-watching TV shows that we love so much?!)

In case you haven't watched it, it's a show about an American football coach (Ted Lasso) who goes to England to manage a professional football (a.k.a., soccer) team, AFC Richmond. Ted Lasso has a TON of fans, and I believe it's because we're looking for a little kindness and humor during the times we're living in right now. 

Coach Lasso is unassuming, hopeful, and kind. I think if we could all be a little more like Ted Lasso, the world would be a better place! 

There are so many take-aways from the show, and here are 5 leadership lessons we can learn from Coach Lasso:

1. Show love to those who deserve it the least. Ted Lasso was hired by Rebecca Welton, the owner of the soccer team. Welton acquired the team in the divorce from her husband, and she hired the inexperienced Lasso, hoping that he would fail in order to get back at her ex-husband who loved the team and had cheated on her. She wasn't kind to Lasso, and she did things to set him up for failure. (I won't share the details in case you haven't seen it yet!) He was non-stop optimistic, bringing her cookies each morning along with a dose of positivity. 

Most educators have heard the following quote by Russell Barkley, “The children who need love the most will always ask for it in the most unloving ways.” This can apply to adults in the building, too! 

2. "I appreciate you." Practicing gratitude can help us make the shift from a scarcity mindset to an abundance mindset. Take it one step further, and be like Ted Lasso. He tells almost everyone that he appreciates them. This is a way to connect with others in a positive way and to let others know that they are valued. 

3. Take care of the little things. Ted Lasso asked his team what they didn't like about the locker room. Someone told him that the water pressure was no good. No one expected that anything would be done about it, but Ted took care of it and got it fixed. Talk to your team. Get their feedback. Ask them what they need. Then deliver.

4. People over programs. Ted was an American football coach. He didn't know much about European football (soccer.) What he DID know about was kindness, putting others first, believing in himself and others. He knew about people. He got to know his players and the others that he worked with on a personal level, and these strong relationships is what made Ted successful. 

“I believe in hope. I believe in BELIEVE.” 

- Ted Lasso

5. Believe. Ted Lasso is relentlessly hopeful. We all need someone to believe in us. Imposter syndrome is real, and as leaders, we need to show up and let others know that we believe in them. And hope. 

To my fellow Ted Lasso fans, what would you add? (There's definitely more than 5 leadership lessons!) Or share your favorite Ted Lasso quote in the comments below! 

Thursday, September 23, 2021

The Impact of Praise on Morale and Engagement

The Importance of Praise

When I was a young teacher, I didn’t want to reward my students for doing the things that were basic expectations, such as putting their names on their papers or turning in their work on time. 

As I got more experienced, and especially after I had children, I was asked the question, "When your kids make up their bed or clean their room (or other household chore), do you praise them for that?" When I answered yes, the wise person who was coaching me through my beliefs said, "Does that make them want to do it again?" I had to admit (to myself) that I used praise with my daughters because I knew it made them feel good and because I wanted them to do it again when asked. 

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That conversation helped me to realize that praising my students for doing something I had asked them to do made them want to do more of it.

I began to celebrate students for the small and big accomplishments. Little did I know that it would create a more positive, productive, and fun environment in our classroom.

As I moved into a school leader position, I carried my beliefs with me and applied it to my relationships with staff members. It's not only students who want to work in an environment that’s positive, productive, and fun. Adults do, too! 

"Praise, like sunlight, helps all things to grow." - Croft M. Pentz

Gallup finds that praise, although it has great impact, is not used that often. From the Gallup site, "Only one in three workers in the U.S. and Germany strongly agree that they received recognition or praise in the past seven days for doing good work -- and those who disagree are twice as likely to say they'll quit in the next year. Praise is that powerful."


Here's more information from Gallup on the power of praising teams:

  • When teams are praised, they feel that their work is meaningful. 
  • Teams who don't receive praise don't trust their colleagues. 
  • Teams who receive praise make quality a top priority in their work.
  • Teams who receive praise "openly share information, knowledge, and ideas with one another." (Isn't this a dream environment for schools, PLCs, and other teams within schools and districts?)

How much praise should be given compared to negative feedback? From Harvard Business Review: The Ideal Praise-to-Criticism Ratio 

“The factor that made the greatest difference between the most and least successful teams was the ratio of positive comments to negative comments…
The average ratio for the highest-performing teams was 5.6… The medium-performance teams averaged 1.9… But the average for the low-performing teams, at 0.36 to 1, was almost three negative comments for every positive one.”

From Fast Company, here are 5 ideas to regularly recognize and praise a team:

1. Keep a running list of successes. (Provide time at faculty meetings or other department/PLC meetings to share out the "wins and wows.")

2. Share kudos on social media. (This emphasizes the importance of Telling Your School's Story!)

3. Validate positive actions. (Don't let dissatisfaction be the only time an employee hears from you! The "no news is good news" saying doesn't apply here. Give good news, too!)

4. Be specific. (Let someone know exactly what you liked about their work.)

5. Be authentic and consistent. (Praise should not be given as a way to manipulate. Others can read through false praise, so be sure to keep it real!)

From your experiences, what would you add about the impact of praise? I would love for you to leave your thoughts in the comments below! 

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The Impact of Praise

Wednesday, September 15, 2021

Achieve Excellence with the Salt Shaker Theory

Have you heard about Danny Meyer’s “Saltshaker Theory” of leadership? The successful restauranteur describes his leadership style as one of applying constant, gentle pressure to achieve excellence.
leadership theory
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Meyer learned a lesson about leading people from Pat Cetta, the owner of Sparks, a steakhouse located in New York. Cetta came to visit Meyer at his restaurant, and Meyer was bemoaning the fact that he wasn’t delivering consistent messages to his staff and, as a consequence, they were pushing back and testing limits.

Instead of telling Meyer what to do, Cetta first showed him. Cetta had Meyer to take everything off a dining table except for a saltshaker in the middle of the table. Cetta asked him if that was exactly where Meyer wanted it. Meyer checked it, and moved it about a quarter of an inch to the middle of the table.

Immediately, Cetta moved the salt shaker several inches off center, and asked Meyer to return it to the center of the table. Meyer moved it, and Cetta explained the analogy. He said, “Your staff and your guests are always moving your saltshaker off center. That's their job. It is the job of life. It's the law of entropy!”

Cetta warned Meyer that until he understood that relationships, then he would continue to get upset when someone moved the saltshaker off center.

Cetta said, “It’s not your job to get upset. You just need to understand: That's what they do. Your job is just to move the shaker back each time and let them know exactly what you stand for. Let them know what excellence looks like. And if you're ever willing to let them decide where the center is, then I want you to give them the keys to the store.”

“It's my job, and consequently the job of every other leader in my company, to teach everyone who works for us to distinguish center from off center and always to set things right.”  - Danny Meyer

Where are the parallels for me?
  • When I coached and taught, I believed that I should not get mad at the players/students. I felt that I could be disappointed, but never angry with them. It is important for school leaders to withhold judgment for staff and students, understanding that their "moving the salt shaker" comes with the territory. 
  • I believe that students are looking for boundaries. They want consistency and enforcement of expectations. They don't want anger or judgment, just reinforcement. 
  • Staff members need and depend on consistent messages from leadership. It's a fine line between micromanaging and consistently enforcing expectations. (School leaders, I would love for you to leave a comment on how you manage it.)

If you want to read more about Danny Meyer and what he learned from the hospitality business about leadership (and find the many analogies to education), check out his book below:

You can click the picture above, or click this Amazon link.

How does this leadership style relate to you and/or your school or district?

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