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With a few colleagues, we’ve started reading Leverage Leadership. Here’s a little about the book:

Paul Bambrick-Santoyo (Managing Director of Uncommon Schools) shows leaders how they can raise their schools to greatness by following a core set of principles. These seven principles, or “levers,” allow for consistent, transformational, and replicable growth. With intentional focus on these areas, leaders will leverage much more learning from the same amount of time investment. Fundamentally, each of these seven levers answers the core questions of school leadership: What should an effective leader do, and how and when should they do it.

I like the fact that it starts out with formulas and recipes for success. You know, “Do this and you’ll get these results.” Who wouldn’t like to be told what to do, and then what results to search for? I hope you’ll join me as I take notes on this book and ask myself questions based on highlighted items for implementation. I may also intersperse comments in square brackets [my thoughts here]

My Notes – Chapter 6: Staff Culture

  1. Invested, happy teachers are force multipliers.
  2. When leaders create a vibrant and joyful culture, teachers are more willing to be held accountable and more willing to do the hard work that makes a school work because there is a level of respect, trust, and appreciation for the work that they do.
  3. Happy or thriving employees exhibit (as cited in Harvard Business Review in book):
    1. 16% better overall performance
    2. 125% less burnout
    3. 32% greater commitment to the organization
    4. 46% greater satisfaction with their jobs
    5. Lower rates of absenteeism
  4. Five strategies for a successful staff culture:
    1. Set the vision. Wisely design a clear and palpable vision for the work environment in your school. What do you want teachers to say about their school?
    2. Get the right people on the bus [ugh, i hate this point but it is true…you can spend time trying to help a dead twig to bloom but the problem is bigger than watering and sunshine can fix]. Ensure your vision helps drive your hiring.
      1. Mission alignment – prospective hires must understand and embrace the mission as their own. Ask probing questions about why candidates are interested in the position.
      2. Openness to Feedback – the ability to accept feedback openly and sincerely, to act on it conscientiously is non-negotiable. [I love this because it does something we seldom do in schools…have non-negotiables except that everything is negotiable]
      3. Fit on the Team – “Hiring great is brutally hard. And yet nothing matters more in winning than getting the right people on the field. All the clever strategies and advanced technologies in the world are nowhere near as effective without great people to put them to work.” Quote Source:  Jack Welch and Suzy Welch, Winning.
    3. Prioritize your commitment to developing a strong staff culture.
      1. Start strong and focus on first interactions that employees have with the school and the first weeks of the school year.
    4. Look and listen for negative culture warning signs.
      1. Leaders continually keep listening for rumblings and warning signs that problems are coming, identifying them sooner rather than later.
      2. Ways to listen:
        1. Weekly staff meetings.
        2. Weekly surveys of staff and others that includes questions like, What’s going well? What’s one thing that could be going better?, What’s one thing any of the school leaders could do to make your life easier?, and a fun question.
        3. Check nonverbals or subtle signs.
      3. Acting on Warning Signs:Identify the source of the problem, ask questions about communication gap. Act on and seek to understand the root of warning signs…otherwise they are likely to spread and weaken your culture.
        1. Ways to have challenging interactions:
          1. In person
          2. Private and with time
          3. Targeted
          4. Immediate
    5. Be intentional about defining staff culture [“define or be defined” is another way of putting it.]
  5. Communication tips:
    1. Keep an open face that doesn’t shut down in the fact of conflict or negativity.
    2. Listen first.
    3. Wait before sending emails or just don’t.
    4. Use we instead of I or you
    5. Have a bias toward Yes
    6. Revisit the mission often
  6. It’s not the decision you make that matters, but how you message your response.
  7. Two steps to transform staff culture during turnaround:
    1. Get on the same page and be unified in mission.
    2. Leverage your presence. Create tight feedback loops around actions and acknowledge when teachers are on the right track.
  8. The more unified a culture is around core ideas and values, the more likely it is that ‘holdouts’ will begin to feel that the culture is simply not for them, leading them to look elsewhere.

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Everything posted on Miguel Guhlin’s blogs/wikis are his personal opinion and do not necessarily represent the views of his employer(s) or its clients. Read Full Disclosure

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