My Leadership Lens

Published: 2023-01-29 12:00 |

Category: Leadership | Tags: teamwork, school, productivity, relationships

This year, part of my job has taken on a functional team-leader role. I'm not a leader in the sense that I'm evaluating my team members, but my role has started to become more directive as I work to align professional devlopment across programs within the district. The Instructional Technology team has always been an active arm of PD within the district and the team looks to me to set direction, advocate at the district level, and assign tasks as needed.

However, I'm not a district administrator. I'm essentially a teacher-leader with a seat at the admin table to bring perspective and help plan staff training opportunites with other district leadership. I've approached this position tentatively, which has led to some frustration. Given my non-admin role, I don't always feel like I have the station to speak as a peer with the leadership team. At the same time, there are programs and systems-level challenges I feel I can speak to as a problem solver and leader within the district.

Over the last several months, I've thought about how I can change my thinking and my working habits to takcle some of these challenges. I started by reading Leadership on the Line, which provides insight and perspective on how to effect change in large organizations without burning out or being forced out (systems resist change). I felt like I needed to find ways to confront problems and bring uncertainty forward so we could work to find solutions.

On paper, that sounds great. Leaders effect change. But it also made me feel like I was always in conflict, which hurt my job satisfaction and made me question whether or not I was really capable of taking on more leadership responsibility.

Last week, I had the chance to bring the instructional coaches to a team dynamic workshop where we looked at each of our own work habits and considered how those affect one another and how it affects our team as a whole. I've done these things in the past and I have to say, this one felt different. The facilitators made sure we all understood that people are complex and that patterns are simply indicators and not 100% accurate all of the time. It felt like we were people, not numbers or "types" to dissect.

I realized that my problem was that I wanted to make systems differences before I really understood how to work with the coaches I see day to day. I started to see that my focus on leadership as a way to change systems at the top came at the expense of making sure my team was as effective as possible.

We're early in the semster. I've already spent time digging into some of the tools I have access to as a result of the workshop and I'm considering how I can better facilitate relationships with the coaches as a team and not just as a group of people who do similar work. I want to make sure each of the coaches I'm leading - even if it feels "unofficial" - is equipped to do the best work they can when they're with administrators or teachers out in the buildings.

My lens was focused on the wrong place. I still need to bring challenges to the district level, but that's only half of the work. Taking on the "change-maker" attitude isolated me in my work and made it hard to see how the team I'm leading can be a part of the solution and not just highlighting problems.

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