Vision and Culture Always Work Better Than Carrots and Sticks

They have hired you to be the instructional leader.  You are expected to operate the school effectively and efficiently as well.  Relationships?  You need to lead the way with community, parents, central office, students, their parents, teachers and staff.

The principal, in concert with the assistant principal(s), has more to do than can be done.

That’s why you can make your school more effective by choosing the right priorities in which to spend your time.  You should be investing your time in actions that are high-leverage opportunities.  That’s why you should be spending your time on vision and culture.

mso8aa73a95b0cIf you get caught in the trap of just “running” the school, it won’t be long before the school runs you.  Instead, be the champion for the school’s vision and the guardian of the school’s culture.

What does that mean? Just like the most effective classrooms develop a social contract, so do the most effective schools.  Our contract may take the form of a mission, vision, and beliefs document.  If made priorities at the school, mission, vision and beliefs can become powerful enough to drive the thoughts and actions of the people who are a part of the school’s community.

How do you get to “there?”  It’s a process, but as is the case with all processes, you have to take the first step to begin your journey to success.  The first step is to establish that mission, vision, and beliefs are a priority.  How do you do that?  Like all things, we identify our priorities in the places we choose to invest our time and other resources.

If you only spend time on MVB (Mission, Vision, Beliefs) when AdvancedEd is coming for accreditation visits, you can be certain that your MVB aren’t really driving your school.

The more that the people in your school community talk about the purpose of their work, the more likely it is that they’ll engage deeply into it.  We spend a lot of time attempting to modify behavior– both student and teacher behavior– through a sticks and carrots approach.  Punishment for negative behaviors; rewards for good behaviors.  There is some place for that at schools, but if it isn’t a part of process to blend into a more purposeful approach to motivation, then it will only go so far.

That’s the point where many schools and school leaders arrive:  the old carrots and sticks don’t work anymore so they are traded for a new set of sticks and a fresh set of carrots.

Get off of that carousel.  Prioritize purpose work.  Build a vision with the people in your school community.  They will be proud when you are the champion of their vision and not just the promoter of your own.  And then?  Vision becomes culture, culture becomes the daily expectation and you, as the guardian of the culture can lead the school on that journey towards success.

Leadership365 /25

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