The sound of a text message alert at 6:30 a.m. on a Friday creates some panic in my mind. It immediately triggers some emotional questions: “Are my parents okay? Did a student or staff member lose a loved one? Did my sister have an accident?” I’m not sure why my thoughts immediately go to the negative. Maybe it’s simply because of how the chemicals in our brain control our reactions and behaviors. For me, I have to consciously manage the negative thoughts (caused by cortisol, our bodies’ built-in alarm system) that come flooding in at times like this. I naturally analyze situations, read into what people say or do, and role-play different scenarios so I feel better prepared for the possibility of an unfortunate outcome.
So, back to the 6:30 a.m. text message. Contrary to my initial instincts, this message was a positive one. A colleague was sharing with me a recent podcast he had listened to. A podcast that allowed him to make connections to the work we have been focused on as public school leaders; Leading While Navigating Change.
On my way to work that Friday morning, I listened to the podcast, Principal Matters: The School Leader’s Podcast with William Parker. This particular podcast focused on the only constant in life - change. Leading in uncertain times is hard. William shared a story about the military as an analogy to strategic leadership in schools. Ultimately, the most important aspect of leadership is grounded in our ability to build trusting relationships with our colleagues and the people we serve.
How do you lead in times of change?
Boots on the ground-Soldiers/Teachers
Personnel involved in the activity
Coordination of systems, protocols, and policies-Officers/Principals
Day to day management
Understanding the overall purpose of the mission and communicating what is at stake
Understanding and addressing the moving parts
In the end, the 6:30 a.m. text on Friday was a positive one. One that regrounded me in purpose and meaning. Thanks, Todd Keenan (Twitter @Todd_Keenan_ ) for sharing your learning with me and for your partnership in this change journey.
If you have not listened to this podcast, it’s worth 20 minutes. https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/principal-matters-school-leaders-podcast-william-d/id1070576885
Here are 5 applications that William shares as we walk through change together.
What one thing you can do this week?
Work the plan and execute it consistently.
Create new routines and habits focused on the health, safety, and well-being of others.
Serve as a powerful influence of keeping patience and remaining calm.
Celebrate success and remain optimistic.
Build trust by creating time and space for one-on-one dialogue and feedback.