After reading Failure of Nerve, I gleaned the concept that effective leadership can see things that are not commonly seen in everyday experiences. One should have no fear of what others may think or say when leading organizational change. Also, this type of leadership has the ability to make decisions that are not similar to current trends and will not be what others expect to align with the status quo even when the stakes are high. When leading, the criticism will come, and in the midst of it leadership must self-differentiate by staying the course. I recognize this is easily said, but when practiced can challenge what a leader has on the inside. Critics and naysayers are the test to the heart’s intuitiveness. Friedman says, “Differentiation is the direction in life rather than a state of being.” This direction is guided by the following: taking a stand in emotional conditions, standing alone when others oppose you, the ability to separate others feelings from decision making, being calm when others are not, knowing the limits of personal ability and when to include others, the ability to not contribute to emotional situations, clearly knowing your own values and goals, and accepting complete responsibility for your own emotional responses without blaming other people (Friedman, 183).
Self-differentiated Leadership & Crucial Conversations
The majority of my focus would be on self-differentiated leadership. The bulk of the responsibility would be on my ability to stay focused on the goal despite the obstacles of encouraging management’s continuous support of the plan. Historically, within the administration of our organization, there is one person that can be resistant to change. The motive sometimes is just because it was not their idea. My usual response is to allow them to express their opposing position fully before responding and try to find common ground. This helps to establish dialogue. Sometimes, there is no common ground and I have failed by getting upset and becoming silent because it appears that no progress is being made. In the book, Crucial Conversations, one helpful suggestion of how to handle this was to walk away and re-examine if your motive is to be right or to be understood and come back again (Patterson, 33). I must admit that this was the key to a long standing problem. Yes, I have to admit I had the goal of being right rather than being understood, and I would lose focus. This will help me to stay focused on the goal and not on the person who is voicing the criticism. This is one area that I will have to work on to exemplify self-differential leadership when standing alone while others oppose me and not being a contributor to an emotional situation.
The “Why” Factor
Children in preschool need to have early literacy skills to ensure success in their education, is the “why” for this planned strategy of change. Keeping this as central factor for the direction and decisions will be beneficial for leading the organization to change. Sometimes the whirlwind of daily responsibilities can cloud this and complacency can set in. Using the crucial conversation process can be a tool that helps to overcome complacency. Getting stuck on unimportant things can kill momentum, as a leader appealing to the heart of staff by encouraging them in the small things can keep them playing on your team. Also being visible and helpful looking for the teachable moments can build morale. Allowing them to voice their opinion, good or bad, can give them the freedom in communicate during the weekly meetings. Mastering my story will help me keep my emotions under control, by not using my position to downplay an observation or suggestion that might be legitimate. Sharing facts are important when allowing the expression of differing points of view and making sure it is applicable to the situation. Exploring constructive options and tweaking things when it appears that the projected plan of action is not working. Having a plan of how resolutions will happen in advance like who, what, when, and how to follow up will help silence/violence to not be a tactical resort. Using words that are inflamed without forethought can be detrimental to success and making procedures to resolve conflict clear to everyone will give order to the situation.
The Influencers are important to Success
The influencers that are within my organization are the board of trustees, parents of students and teaching staff. By using the “Six Sources of Influence Model,” I have created a strategy to ensure the successful implementation of the plan with the help of each of them. There are three areas that will be targeted when considering change: professional development, instructional tools, and school administrators that support implementation. The following is the general strategy to include them in the implementation of change within the organization.
Accomplishing Change using 4DX
Implementing change requires some specific areas to serve as a basis for the process to begin. The 4Dx strategy was a helpful resource for me to develop these areas. Here the process of change is executed by the practice of four disciplines that will support change. The following are the steps to change: getting clear, launch, adoption, optimization, and habits. My strategy to accomplishing change is based on these disciplines.
4DX Strategy of Change
- Focus on the wildly important goal. (Getting Clear) – The following is the WIG (wildly important goal): “We will have 50% of the children who are preschool age with literacy skills by August 30, 2018”. This will be the focus of discussion with the staff at the weekly WIG meeting. This will start with a lead measure that would be “Students will have sufficient literacy skills to read”.
- Act on the lead measure. (Launch and Adoption) – Some examples of the starting lag measures could be “Staff would teach each student’s key areas of literacy oral language, alphabetic code, and print knowledge”, “Students would be assessed to group students for instruction to ensure progress that can be experienced collectively by their group”, and “Staff would determine skills that each group would practice daily”. With these lag measures as a starting point, this will help us ensure that the staff collectively will collaborate on each student’s progress.
- Create a compelling scoreboard. (Optimization) – We will create a poster showing each staff member’s class and track the class averages in each of the three key literacy areas. It would be posted in class room and updated on a weekly basis. Each class will have established goals to be met weekly.
- Create a cadence of accountability.(Habits) – There will be a meeting every week on Friday at the same time and only discuss the WIG (wildly important goal). Discussions will involve things that each staff will determine they can do to impact the scoreboard each week. Meeting will involve 3 areas of discussion: report on last week’s commitments, review and update scoreboard, and make commitments for upcoming week.
Applying the knowledge from these resources has helped me to discover areas that I lacked the skills to be effective in my leadership. Change has to be planned and with the planned strategy that I have created, I am moving towards successful implementation.
Covey, S., McChesney, C., & Huling, J. (2012). The 4 disciplines of execution: achieving your wildly important goals.New York, NY: Simon and Schuster.
Friedman, E. (2007). Failure of nerve: leadership in the age of the quick fix. New York, NY: Church Publishing, Inc.
Patterson, K., Grenny, J., & Swizler, A. (2012). Crucial conversations: tools for talking when stakes are high. 2nd Edition. New York, NY. McGraw-Hill Education.
Patterson, K. and Grenny, J. (2013). Influencer: the new science of leading change. 2nd Edition. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill Education.