Recently, I was providing a PD experience for a school about the ins and outs of PLCs. Teacher-teams were tasked to identify a particular student learning-based problem-of-practice to tackle, set a SMART goal, and build a plan together.
As teams collaborated, the school’s principal hurried over to me, her brow furrowed in frustration. “We need to add another degree of accountability,” she urgently whispered. “One team is off base. They’re talking about their gol-darned discipline policy. We have to stop everyone and have them recalibrate.”
I thought of the great advice of Todd Whitaker, author of What great principals do differently. He urged us to make leadership decisions based on what our best people need. I call this “leading from the front.” I shared it with the principal like this:
“You have eight teacher-teams. Seven are on target. Why interrupt them? If you have one team that’s operating with a misunderstanding, go sit down with them. Clarify. Refocus their thinking. Stay with them as long as they need you. Lead from the front.”
How often do we make leadership decisions based on the laggards, the unwilling, or those that aren’t quite ready yet? What message does this send? Instead, let’s set the tone that we pursue excellence. From where do you lead?
Pete Hall is an educational consultant, former award-winning principal, speaker, and author of four books (including Lead On! Motivational lessons for school leaders (Eye on Education, 2011) and Teach, Reflect, Learn: Building your capacity for success in the classroom (ASCD, 2015). He shares his perspectives in 212-word entries every month or so. He can be reached for speaking engagements, professional development, or other queries at firstname.lastname@example.org.