Monday, October 3, 2022

The 4 E's for New School Leaders

I'm a huge fan of most reality TV, and I especially love watching singing and talent competitions. The Voice has some incredible talent on it this season, and I was excited to have the return of Gwen Stefani as a coach. (Where are my No Doubt fans?!!?)

There's a line I've heard Gwen say several times that also resonates with me and where I am in my journey as a former high school teacher (12 years) and administrator (15 years), and now current doctoral student, leadership consultant, and facilitator at a non-profit organization. 

Several times, when pitching herself to be someone's coach, Gwen has said (and I paraphrase)

I’ve been around for a long, long time. I would just love to be your coach. I've lived my dream, and this is my time in my life to give back to somebody like you that has a dream. I’m ready to do it.

Todays' post is for the new leaders. The ones who are learning by doing. The ones who may need a boost, some support, a fresh idea, or a clear plan. I share blog posts based on my personal experiences of successes and failures as well as what I've learned through connections with other educators and leaders across the country. 

The list is not all-inclusive, and other seasoned leaders may have a different list. The point is not to determine "who has the perfect list." The point is that we can learn from others who have walked the path before us. My hope is that a new leader will have at least one take-away from this post and be able to use it for their personal and professional growth. 


According to Merriam-Webster, the prefix "en-" means 

1. put into or onto

2. cause to be

3. provide with

"Providing with courage" or "Cause to be courageous" starts with having an encouraging mindset. When we trust others and choose to see the good in them, providing encouraging words and gestures come easily. Handwritten notes of affirmation and gratitude as well as celebrations of success are two ways to provide encouragement to others. Encouragement will go a long way toward building community and a positive culture. As a new leaders, it can be easy to forget to encourage yourself at times. While most people are familiar with a gratitude journal, new leaders may find that an Encouragement Journal is helpful during the first few years of being in a leadership position. Including phrases, quotes, and reflections will add up to a powerful tool in fighting against imposter syndrome or other challenges faced by leaders.

Related post  |  Let's Celebrate Teachers of the Moment



Brene Brown, a leading researcher, says the following about empathy:
Empathy is connecting with people so we know we’re not alone when we’re in struggle. Empathy is a way to connect to the emotion another person is experiencing; it doesn’t require that we have experienced the same situation they are going through.

Leading with empathy requires leaders to be vulnerable and in touch with their own emotions. It is a willingness to say, "I'm sorry you're going through that. I've been there." It's also a willingness to slow down, listen, and extend grace. It's not about fixing another person or feeling sorry FOR them. It is feeling sorry WITH them and showing kindness to them. 

Forbes published an article on the disconnect between leaders' views and employees' views of whether or not their organizations had empathetic cultures. 

They also shared 5 guidelines for building an empathetic culture:

  1. Change your mind
  2. Allow the messy
  3. Use candor productively
  4. Involve others in your decisions
  5. Foster growth, not judgment

Related Post  |  The One Thing We All Need to Be



Do you feel like there are too many things to juggle? 

Are your teachers feeling like they're getting more and more piled on their plates? 

As a new leader, 

-get clear on your personal values as well as your school values. Be sure that everything that you do aligns with your and your school's core values. 

-remember what it was like to be a teacher. Do everything you can to remove "things" that can be eliminated from teachers' plates. 

-consistently ask your staff how you can help them

-create systems for yourself to eliminate distractions 

-spend time with people who lift you up and provide encouragement for you


As a new school leader, you will be pulled in many directions. It will be important for you to connect with students, staff, and stakeholders. Visibility will be key in ensuring that others know that you are interested and desire to connect. Queen Elizabeth II understood the importance of visibility. She often dressed in bright colors in order to be seen. She wanted to make sure that others know that she was present. 

Take time to get to know your staff members and students. A chat in the hallway, lunchroom, playground, or gym can be perfect opportunities for a quick check-in and to ask others about their day. Smiling and showing kindness is not a sign of weakness, and it makes others feel less threatened when having to talk with a school leader. 

There are four basic needs that people must have met or else they will start down the path of disengagement and ultimately quitting their jobs. (As shared in Randy Conley's post at Blanchard Leaderchat)
  1. The need for trust
  2. The need for hope
  3. The need to feel a sense of worth
  4. The need to feel competent
As a new leader, a question for reflection is, "How am I fulfilling the needs of our school staff?"

If I can help you in any way, please reach out via email or Twitter. "I've lived my dream, and this is my time in my life to give back to somebody like you that has a dream."


No comments:

Post a Comment