Change – something happening there

Change is not an email from leadership. It is a process that pushes limits, brings joy to some and frustrates others. It moves slowly. Leaders talk about it, often forgetting to model it. As time passes, vision can get cloudy and ownership questions can arise. And yet, change, or at least our ability to, is pivotal to the success of our connected future.

Vision: someone wants it. A person or a group see it, play with it, and are willing to work for it. Slowly actions influence more individuals and they want it too. Some appear to be excited by change yet lean back. Others reinterpret it or worse, misunderstand it. Bureaucrats fear it, unless its new bureaucracy. Keep your vision simple, clear, and always at the ready.

changeasaqualityLeadership: it’s about people. Good leaders add value, empower, and know when to get out of the way. They listen, observe, and reinforce the motivation to change. Great ones model it. Their persistence and their ability to challenge themselves inspire us. They make the rounds and visit the trenches. We trust them because we know they have not lost touch.

Stewardship: of the people. Someone must carry the vision. Leaders get busy. Stewards step up, volunteer, and jump in because they care. They’re in the trenches daily working to affect change. They speak up, work through challenges, consul, and celebrate with us. Not everyone gets change right away, yet with empowered stewardship change runs smoother.

Learning: leaning in and owning. Learning along the way is crucial to the success. People ask questions, generate ideas, and arrive at aha moments. When they talk, listen. If they need latitude, give it to them. It’s frustrating and fabulous all at once. Champion and celebrate moments along the way. If someone lets you down, flag it. Then, reflect, refine, and move forward together. If we can’t shift gears, redouble efforts, and leverage just in time resources, where’s the learning?

Support: undervalued yet essential. Leaders come and go. Stewards have other jobs too. Those who are getting it done, get frustrated. Build and identify your support network early. Revisit its effectiveness often and build multiple forms of support. We all learn differently. Email is great for some, videos are better for others, and some only change when there is one on one handholding. Without support, change does not happen.

We all see change a little differently and that’s OK. Just keep it simple, do your part, step up when needed, ask questions, learn what you can, and take time to reflect. And remember no matter how great change sounds, we can only affect so much at one time.

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Is your email a disposable asset?

It stands always ready, takes seconds to write, requires no effort to deliver, reaches one or thousands nimbly, and yet there’s no guarantee you will ever see it again. Sound great, expect for that last part.

disposabledefinitionYou rely upon a timely return with the information required. Yet, as the world gets busier, this becomes a bigger reliance. Once you hit send, you are on someone else’s time. They too need to get work done, reshuffle priorities regularly, and get too many emails. Why increase this reliance by sending someone a disposable asset?

You have two options, one depend less on email or two invest in improving the return of your asset. –pause to reflect– OK, option two it is. 

Are you giving or asking for something?

If you are asking for something, think of the other person. Make the email clear and as concise as possible. If you can’t say what you need in one or two lines, then people are going to need more time to think about it. More time equals a higher chance of a delay or being ignored.  If you are giving something away, fantastic! Givers are not so concerned about a reply. Plus, giving increases your email karma. Still, clarity is key!

Do you have a prior relationship with that person?

Family aside, if you didn’t email someone at your work, would he/she ever think about you or miss you? If no, see notes on clear and concise above; else, consider a more direct method of communication. Yes, it is more time consuming, yet relationship building pays riches over time.  When someone unknown emails you, do you jump to reply? To stay competitive today, we must produce. Being busy isn’t enough! If you depend on email, your relationships need to be dynamic.

Is there another way? 

Maybe the answer to your email query already exists online. Check meeting notes, prior emails, FAQ pages, or even the addressee’s social media. Take action by harvesting data or information where you can and don’t wait for it to come to you already assembled. 21st Century tools, plus human brain, and an ability to act means maybe you could work at Google.

Maybe email really works for you? Yet, ask yourself the following. Are your emails clear and concise? Does email interfere with work you need to do? Do you answer emails as they come in? If you answered yes twice, I suggest you rethink your email usage. Disposable assets don’t really help you get work done!

Learning & Leadership

With focus and self-discipline, quality learning will continue. By concentrating less on outcomes and more on how and why, students will understand that knowledge is a process and not something you look up. Those who can navigate change while they balance creativity and leadership will ensure a framework for students to be life long learners.

With technology, we can slip in and out of learning while we are at school; we used to learn at school and live our regular lives outside. While revolutionary for the ingenious learner, technology can represent a multiple challenge for the undisciplined student. Instant knowledge lies at a student’s fingertips and at no intellectual cost. School must guide students to infuse their learning with integrity and self-respect.

Students should know how to identify, filter, assess, and tag data. Without these skills, quality learning does not stand a chance. Students who simply repackage secondary source learning miss the essential critical aspect of education. Schools must coach students out of their safety zones, challenge them to take risks, and lead them to ask more of their social networks. Students who assemble information from the Internet and tag it for later use will enhance the value of that knowledge for themselves. A school that can teach the value and technique of this methodology will see students produce at peak levels.

Correct answers are no longer an adequate gauge of successful schooling. Schools must key expected outcomes to the skills students need to be modern learners. Correct answers are simply the result of an arithmetic logic. With answers already at our fingertips, schools need to teach students how to devise questions, how to state those questions in the complex algorithms that can deliver the complex answers to our complex questions. With Google about to present catalogs of every human thought, schools must accent the how and why.

Learning and leadership are indispensable for change. Leadership in schools will always be about people. Good leaders know both how to add value and how to get out of the way. They manage transparently and are detail oriented in their communication. They are active listeners and keen observers. Change happens around them and they continually evolve the concept of learning. Good leaders reinforce peoples’ motivations and push them to challenge themselves.

The institution of school must teach students the necessary self-discipline to keep them focused on learning. Answers can be copied and pasted. Students who can use information critically will become tomorrow’s leaders. Schools will be assessed on the innovative solutions they inspired and coached students to produce.