We are nearly at the end of Term 3 and I am noticing that my team are getting tired and fragile. I’ve been thinking about the culture of our faculty and how I would love it to grow and develop to help us get through this time well. I’ve also been thinking about how to improve my leadership skills and have been reading and listening to podcasts on this topic.
In his podcast series on Blind Spots, John Maxwell suggests asking your team what your blindspots are. When I chatted with my DP, he suggested the same thing so I asked a few trusted people in the team what they thought I needed to work on. One of the comments was to have more specific goals, targets, or expectations for department performance and culture. There was another comment about general negativity and that it would be good if I could address this. I believe that promoting positive values would be a great way of addressing these issues so, in response to this feedback, I came up with a list of some of the behaviours and values that I would like to see:
- Be kind
- Listen to and learn from one another
- Respect each other’s opinions
- Communicate positively
- Take risks and try new ideas
- Empower each other to be successful
- Help to create a sense of belonging
John Maxwell in his podcast, Half-time Adjustments, gives great tips for leading during the COVID 19 crisis. His advice is that we need to “lean in to change and not away from it”. Maxwell observes that, “The biggest crisis in our lives is our loss of values” and advises embracing our values in this unpredictable time. In his book, Change Your World, Maxwell explains that, “Transformation is possible for anyone willing to learn and live good values, value every person and collaborate with others to create a culture of positive change.” I found it really helpful listening to this podcast and there were some really cool values that were discussed. Values such as courage, empathy, forgiveness, and humility. And the classic: treating others as you want to be treated. Maxwell said that when people join his business they get a laminated card with the company values clearly expressed on it. It’s not really my thing to give everyone a laminated card but I have been toying with the idea of making some posters to portray our values.
I had a meeting with my DP this week and talked about values and culture with him. He has kindly offered to come and have a chat with the faculty and help us develop some shared goals and values. I believe that it is important to co-construct these goals and values so that we can create a shared understanding that we all own. My poster making may have to wait until after this session! Don’t get me wrong; our faculty is nowhere near a train wreck! There is a lot that we do really well such as bringing kai to share with each other (alert level permitting); we have a lot of fun when we share a coffee together before we start the day; and we help new teachers in the faculty by answering questions and showing them how to do things. However, there is always room for improvement, especially when going through a challenging time.
English novelist, Mary Shelley (quoted in Maxwell’s podcast) states that “Emotional strength is revealed during a crisis.” After the first lockdown I did find myself a bit wobbly emotionally and saw a counsellor to get some help with this. I dealt with the second lockdown a lot better and believe that I have become emotionally stronger as a result. Maxwell explains that leaders need to develop emotional strength as emotionally strong leaders don’t waste time feeling sorry for themselves or allow themselves to be controlled by others. They “embrace changes and are not led by their emotions but by values, their calling, and their principles.” For me, this means that to lead my team through culture development I need to be emotionally strong.
Many people are starting to think about values and culture in their workplaces and it seems to be the Zeitgeist at the moment. COVID 19 has been really challenging for our well-being and this has brought the best out of people but it’s also bought the worst out of people. We all need to stick together and support each other. We need to care about each other; be gracious to one another and accept that we are not perfect. This can only be good for our learners as the values that we portray will be the values that they learn. We will be going through this really challenging time in our lives for a while yet. I believe that making values explicit and co-constructing what we expect in our faculty culture will be a really positive step forward especially for Term Four so that we can finish our year well.
We all know that COVID-19 it’s not going away soon; it’s more likely to be COVID-19 – 22.
Maxwell, J. (2020) Change your world.