Despite the many differences within districts or regions, education leaders encounter many of the same challenges within their schools. These probably fall within a few areas and may include things like “raising student achievement, connecting with the school community, supporting staff in a pandemic, and increasing effectiveness of school systems”. In most cases, many of the challenges leaders face deal with motivating, empowering and getting the best from their staff. A leader can lead with presenting data, strategic plans and logic but to really help staff feel connected behind a common vision we must first use emotion to connect to the staff. This blog post focuses on why leaders when working with staff need to focus on emotion before logic.
Why connecting with staff with emotion is most essential
- People don’t follow data or a mission statement – they follow someone they believe in. Leaders must connect with their staff so staff have a sense of a broader purpose that is united by human connectedness. Staff will work hard for anyone as they are in it for kids, but for staff to give the “extra” that does truly make the difference they must believe in the people that lead them.
- In order to focus on collective results and have a unified vision, this can only be achieved if there is trust among the staff. This is developed and achieved through a focus on the human characteristics – empathy, vulnerability and valuing the people within our walls.
- Who you are as a leader is who you will attract to your school. The data doesn’t tell the story of a school – people do. When leaders lead with humility, positivity and genuine care, then it places people at the heart of the work. School leaders with this mindset attract educators who are “in it for the kids” and are lifelong learners.
- The values of an organization are an expression of the people within it. Leaders must continually build others up and focus on culture as this will allow them over time to focus on data informed decisions and strategic plans. In order to get to the desired results, we must “go slow to go fast” – take time to connect with people and then the results will happen quicker down the road.
Strategies to connect with people with emotion
- How we connect and develop people is most important but there isn’t just 1 way, there are numerous. How a leader connects with people through emotion may vary based on many factors but could include the following:
- Instilling confidence in people so they believe in themselves.
- Give others hope for a brighter future and something to believe in by sharing stories/videos that reflect experiences within the school and impact the educators can have upon students.
- Listen to people so they are understood, see different perspectives and a focus on “we”.
- Be visible in the building and “walk with people” so you see their challenges and help find ways to remove the barriers so people can focus on their role and find success.
- Celebrate small wins or show your staff your appreciation. There is a lot of power in a handwritten note or a 30 second genuine conversation.
- Focus on the needs of others first, not your needs, so your focus aligns with your work. Leaders must be servant leaders who put others’ needs in front of their own.
By connecting with staff through emotion and experiences, leaders will help staff get to know who they are, how they want to develop others within their role and can motivate their staff. This will lead to a foundation of trust that can be expanded to a commitment to collective results with a unified vision. A single person can make a significant difference. True leadership occurs by intentional efforts when you work extremely hard to improve your own learning and that leads to growth. It is never too late to change or adapt to create something better. We owe that to our students and staff that we serve. I encourage you to reflect and better understand what is within your grasp as a leader so you can connect with staff with emotion before logic. Comment below or reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org