Don’t Be Accidental; Lead With Vision

Why does AdvancED insist that a school and system conduct a process with all stakeholders to design their vision, mission and beliefs? Why is this so important that it is a requirement to renew one’s accreditation?

Have you ever given that much thought?

Earlier in my career as I was moving through the ranks in administration, it seemed that I had the “accreditation magnet.”  Whenever I chose to change jobs and move to another school, once I arrived, I was informed, “by the way, we’ll be going through accreditation next year.”  Because of that ‘good fortune,’ I had the opportunity to work on a number of strategic plans and accreditation visits.

I wish that I knew then what I know now.

For one, if you are only examining vision, mission, and beliefs every five to ten years, it’s not very likely to be driving the work of your school or system. 

vision socratesMy advice to school leaders?  Talk about about vision every day.  Don’t miss a chance to bring focus to the mission.  In every thing you do, you’re shaping the beliefs of your school.  Formally examine vision/mission/beliefs at least annually.

Not for compliance, not for practice, not for show; examine vision/mission/beliefs to bring a focus to the work everyone does on a daily basis.


Here are some very unproductive things to say and do when reviewing vision/mission/beliefs of your school and system:

  • What did we put last time? 
  • Let’s figure out how to make this as easy as possible for everyone.  Most of our work can be done on a google doc.  We really won’t have to spend much time on this!
  • We just went through this for something else  one year/two years/three years ago… let’s use that!
  • I found this from another school in our system/another school in another system/my sister’s school in Florida; we can use this as a guide to get us started.
  • What is it that they want? 
  • Make sure we have an agenda and sign-in sheet for our meetings.  We need to ask parents, students and community members.  Let’s get four of five of each to look at what we’ve got so far and give us feedback. 
  • 21st century, world-class, synergy, global…

What can change the mindsets that lead to such colossal wastes of time?

Not what, who.

You can make the vision, mission, and beliefs lead your school in success if you will embrace their value and make them a priority.  People at the school will follow the lead of the leader.  Are you the leader?  Do you want your people to be driven by vision, mission, beliefs..purpose?

AdvancED requires us all to engage in the process of determining our vision, mission, and beliefs with our stakeholders.  They do so to ensure that we’ll do it.  Truth is, we should do this on our own if no one ever asked us to do it again.  How can you move from compliance to excellence in your school?  One way is to approach vision/mission/beliefs as if it were your idea.  That’ll be easy to do if, it really is your idea.  Work on vision when you don’t have to.  Talk about it every day, right up to when others begin to talk about it for you.

If your school isn’t running on vision/mission/beliefs (purpose) what is it running on?  What’s driving your school and the way your people approach their work, their relationships at school, their day?

Don’t let that be accidental.  Lead with vision.


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