Posts Tagged ‘leadership’

So, I’ve been thinking about team building activities. Into everyone’s professional life a little team building must fall. The question is will it just happen to you or will it be useful? I have certainly been a part of both sorts of team building. Really, anyone who had been employed for more than a nanosecond could probably say the same thing.

public domain image

public domain image

I thought I would chat a bit about  a recent exercise I participated in that I thought was likely to be useful.

I am part of lots of groups and committees. One of them had a team building type session the other day. We realized a little while back that while we knew in general what each of us did, we had some gaps, some gaps that were not helping us work well together. After batting around a number of ways for us to get to know each other across subgroups, we landed on a session organized by a consultant we work with frequently. We met in pairs to have a short conversation, the goal of which was to get “behind our walls”. The walls we were to get behind were walls that separated our position and responsibilities from those of others, nothing personal. There were a set of questions for the interviewer to ask the interviewee. Many of them were what you might expect.

However, there was one question that really hit me:

What can I start doing, stop doing, or do differently to support your leadership?

There are so many things that I love about this question.

  • It asks me to take some responsibility for the success of the other person as a leader and vice versa.
  • It is not about taking part of my colleague’s job responsibilities, but rather about potentially small changes in what I do and say to more clearly support my colleague.
  • It puts me in partnership with my colleague and he or she with me in terms of leadership not just being generally nice at lunch and chatting at events.

Of course, I already knew we are all in it together. This was not news to me. Still, this interview made me more aware of my role as leader who actively supports other leaders and who can and should expect this in return. And it made me wonder how can I help others support me?

This particular group is full of leaders who have different, sometimes very different, areas of expertise. So, in order to help others help me lead, I have decided that I will be more aware of when I might need to do some education in conjunction with presentation when I am engaging with the group.  Might I need to give some pedagogical background or explain in more than passing summary a particular teaching strategy? Would it be worth sharing a particularly helpful article or video? I don’t want to overwhelm people, but I do want to build our shared knowledge base.

I am reminded again, that I am a teacher, no matter what title I might have.

sad face

Photo by Brianna Lehman
used under creative commons license

So, I’ve been thinking about motivation. More specifically, I have been thinking about how to get people to submit to my evil plans (insert scary laughter here). It’s almost Hallowe’en and my thoughts have turned to the dark side. I used to have to get students to do stuff like study fractions and the Mesopotamians. Now I have to get adults to do stuff like incorporate effective use of technology in their teaching.

One of the blogs that I read is The Leadership Freak by Dan Rockwell. His blog is not about education, but his brief posts often strike a chord. Leading, directing, teaching–they’re all related. So, the other day he wrote about dissatisfaction as a motivator for change. He said that all the great vision in the world is not going to get people to change if they are not at least somewhat dissatisfied with the present situation.

Change movements begin with dissatisfaction in the present. Create want. People won’t change until they want change.

This got me thinking.

Although I am not a rose-colored glasses wearer, I am a positive person for the most part, or at least I like to think I am. I can wallow in “things are terrible” land for a while if I have company, and I can even get stuck there, but it’s not where I feel most at home. My point here is that I would rather cheerlead and talk about the great things that are possible with some change or other than go the dissatisfaction route. But, Dan suggests that this is not going to work. And, I have to admit it’s not working as well as I would like for me.

So, I may try putting one foot into the dark land of dissatisfaction. I’m going to have my Hallowe’en candy with me in case it’s not a nice place. I am not going to sow doom and gloom where ever I go, but I’m considering tossing little dissatisfaction idea bombs here and there. (This all sounds very militaristic to me, but idea-bombs seems ok for a non-violent person, yes?)

I will kind of by like Miss Rumphius in the classic by Barbara Cooony. Miss Rumphius rides around her town sowing wildflower seeds to fulfill one of her goals: to make the world more beautiful. People in the town start to think she is that crazy old lady with seeds in her pocket. I’ll admit, I’m not looking for people to think I’m older than I am, but I’m ok with crazy. (WOW! I am sounding just like my grandmother here. Many years and a city ago when I told her people were going to think a crazy old lady lived in my apartment if she continued to step out onto the balcony in her slip, heels, and purse to smoke, she replied “I am not old!” She did not bat an eye at the crazy label. I miss her.)

Anyway, maybe these dissatisfaction idea-bombs could have a bit of an odor too? The kind that hangs around a while. Hmm, how to stay positive and yet encourage a little dissatisfaction? Is this something that will work for me? Reader(s), has it worked for you?