As we enter summer, all of us are excited about the next few weeks or months. This time of year is important for many reasons in the growth of leaders. It may be that the pace of our work is different, perhaps we have time to connect with colleagues or we have time off from work. The next few weeks are critical in the ongoing growth of leaders but the question remains – how do we grow as leaders from one year to the next?
As I think about my own growth as a leader, the summer months are so important and provide the following ways to grow:
Find time to rejuvenate – Yes, perhaps the most important thing to grow is finding time to get away from our work for periods of time. Why? This time away allows us to find balance in our lives and if leaders do not fill their cup, then they will not have anything left to lead the next year for students, staff, parents or the school. It may be vacations, fishing, spending more time with the family – whatever it is, those times allow us to not only relax (which is so essential) but also to find time to do deep thinking that may not be available during the busy time of year.
Find time to reflect – Reflection may be the most important aspect of growth for a leader. We learn by doing but it is most impactful when we reflect upon the work we tried to implement. The following reflective questions from George Couros and Connected Principals resonate for me:
- What did I do well this year?
- Where do I need to grow?
- What things will I challenge myself with next year?
- How will all of these answers impact learners we serve?
Find ways to move your school forward – As David Geurin shares, it is critical that we are future driven and instill in our school practices to develop in our learners the skills to be successful. From my perspective, this includes:
- Embracing an open culture that stimulates learning to include aspects of choice/voice, getting feedback from students/staff, providing ways for learners to create-play-challenge through relevant experiences that include authentic audiences.
- Narrow the focus of your school so the staff can deepen their learning on a few essential ideas (quality vs quantity).
- Challenge each other to think about past practices and why those were used, how did it benefit learners and are there other options to consider that would better serve our learners?
- Focus on strengths of staff and maximize their impact with your school community.
Find ways to continually build the culture – The most important aspect that impacts the school is its culture. As Jon Gordon reminds us, leaders must always build their culture and it is achieved through the simplest but most impactful ways. Take time and analyze how you can better:
- Be Demanding without being demeaning – it is a fine line of growing staff thru “balance of pressure and support” but staff need to know you have their back as it relates to trying new innovative ideas and it is okay to fail forward – the key is they are trying new approaches to engage and make learning relevant for learners.
- Unite the team – The greatest schools have the best cultures so as each school year begins with new staff – what ways will you unite the new folks with your existing staff to create a team vs a group of individuals?
- Connect with the individual – The most important thing leaders can do is find time to get to know their staff and value their contributions. In this day and age, staff need to know they are valued for their work and feel if they are part of something special.
I am truly looking forward for a few days off to get away from the work this summer. However, the items mentioned above are ways that I will analyze my work practices this summer to help me grow as a leader and make a greater impact upon students and the school community. In what ways will you grow this summer as a leader?
I look forward to hearing from you about your thoughts on ways you grow as a leader during the summer. Comment below or reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org