Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Becoming a Better Leader

As you climb higher on the school leadership ladder, the pyramid begins to get more narrow. On any campus, there is obviously more teaching staff than there are campus administrators. It is easy to feel lonely and isolated if you are not careful. You may have heard the saying, "It is lonely at the top," this can become your reality if you allow it to be. 

I realize that an organization's effectiveness is proportionate to the strength of its leadership. It is for that reason that I continuously strive to grow and develop my skills as a leader so that I can create positive, lasting change on my campus. As a connected leader, I regularly participate in Twitter chats, Voxer discussions and book studies. All these things have helped me learn and grow; nonetheless, I kept noticing a common thread among successful leaders that I was missing - a mentor.

A year ago, while in my second year as a campus administrator, I made the decision to join a mastermind group. This group is made up of campus leaders from all across the country, each with a unique background and diverse level of experience. We have a virtual meeting each week during which we discuss a book we are all reading together and have an opportunity to reflect and share what we are learning. An important part of the meeting is called, the hot seat. Each week a different member of the mastermind group has an opportunity to be on the hot seat and is able to get feedback and bounce ideas off members of the group about an issue or situation they are working through. 

Participating in this leadership mastermind group has increased my leadership capacity. These focused and intentional interactions have shaped and solidify my leadership values and beliefs. It provides me a safe place where I can all be genuine, vulnerable and transparent. It gives me an inside look at the situations other administrators face and how they worked through it. I am not only learning from my own experiences, I also get to learn from theirs. 

For years, when I read about mentors in different leadership books, I just glossed over it and kept on reading. Honestly, I thought I did not need a mentor, I was doing just fine on my own. Being part of a mastermind has accelerated my growth and bumped me to the next level in my leadership. When I first began, I was an assistant principal just beginning. My mastermind encouraged me to go for the principalship job - and I did! In the fall, I will be opening a new school as the principal! I am grateful to my mentors who believe in me, encouraged and guided me through the process.
If you are ready to take your leadership to the next level and pull out all the stops, I encourage you to find a mentor. Find a person or a group of people that share similar interest and passions start your journey!

Although it may sound like one, this is not an advertisement. This is just me just trying to encourage you, to take the next step so you can get greater results. It is time to reach new heights!

If you would like to join a mastermind group similar to mine, reach out to Daniel Bauer on Twitter, he organizes mine. Daniel is the creator of a popular school leader podcast called Better Leaders, Better Schools and is highly recognized and respected in the field.

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Staying Focused

I always say, "I am my biggest obstacle." Does your mind race in a million directions? Do you struggle with staying focused on what is most important to you? For me the answer is, "Yes!" to both of those questions.

Last year I learned about choosing one word to anchor you for the year from my #LeadUpNow PLN. You may have seen the hashtag on Twitter #OneWord2017. This year, I chose the word FOCUS.

My plan for success!

To help me stay focused this year, I started using a strategy I learned in a book called The 12 Week Year by Brian Moran. This is not an education book, it is really about goal setting in 12 week cycles and putting things in place so you can measure your progress towards your goals.

Brian Buffini recently had Brian Moran as a guest on his podcast. Here is a link to it. It is definitely worth listening to. One of my huge takeaways from Moran's book and the podcast was the importance of having an accountability partner or group.

I am a huge believer in having a PLN. I have been part of different PLN groups on Twitter and Facebook. This past year, I discovered a new type of PLN. I joined a mastermind group. Meeting on a weekly basis with 8 other school leaders from across the country has been an amazing experience. Each week we discuss a different book we are reading together then take turns each week being on the "hotseat" for 30 minutes. I have never experienced this level of accountability before.

If you are tired of drifting, getting off track and losing your focus I recommend using a goal setting method such as the one in The 12 Week Year or Living Forward by Michael Hyatt. If you want to increase your probability of accomplishing your goals by 80%, join forces with like minded people who share similar interests and passions. For me, when it comes to staying focused, I've learned I am more successful when I don't go at it alone.