At the time of this writing, I am not a principal. I am an assistant principal.
It is, however, my goal to serve as a principal some day.
I have often wondered what it would be like on that day when I meet my new staff for the first time. What would be my first course of action?
I would imagine it would be exciting, while at the same time a little uncomfortable,, not only for me, but for the staff. I would hope that I would be replacing a principal who had not done that well, so I would be a change for the better, but more likely than not, I would be taking the place of a beloved leader who had been promoted to a position of more responsibility.
Thankfully, I have just finished the book, The Truth about Leadership, the No-Fads, Heart of the Matter Facts You Need to Know by James M. Kouzes and Barry Z. Posner.
In this book, Kouzes and Posner make it clear what I need to do first as a new leader.
I have to answer four important questions that the staff will have for me.
1. Who are you?
2. What do you value?
3. What is your vision?
4. How do I fit in your vision?
I would like to take these questions one at a time in the next few posts, and try and go a little deeper into why these questions are so important.
In this post, let’s answer the first question. It’s an easy one.
Who are you?
Before I can start building relationships or creating collaborative teams, it’s important that the staff know who I am and why I got the job.
I can’t really go into the staff meeting and say, “Hi. I’m your new leader. Follow me.” I can imagine them saying, “Who are you, and why should I follow you?”
That’s why this first question is so important.
In answering this question, I would share my experience, the places I have served as a leader, my titles and education. The staff will need a little assurance as to my competence as their new principal. Hopefully, as they get to know me and work with me, I will be able to convince them that I know what I’m doing, but initially, they’ll want to be able to feel comfortable in my ability to lead.
I would also take the time to answer any questions they may have about my upbringing, some of my challenges in life, my interests, my family life, etc.
The next question, “What do you value?” is a little more difficult to answer. It is so important, however, to clarify your values and beliefs to the staff before you get them to choose to follow you.
We’ll talk about that question in the next post.
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Until next time, here’s to your journey toward School Administration Mastery!