Tag Archives: leadership

Reduce Conflicts… Increase your EQ

From: https://www.flickr.com/photos/hikingartist/ CC License - Attribution-NoDerivs 2.0 Generic (CC BY-ND 2.0)

From: https://www.flickr.com/photos/hikingartist/
CC License – Attribution-NoDerivs 2.0 Generic (CC BY-ND 2.0)

Due to a fortuitous convergence of related articles I have been thinking a lot about Emotional Intelligence, whether we can change it for ourselves and how one’s EQ relates to interpersonal conflicts.

Unless you live in a bubble you’re likely exposed to POTENTIAL interpersonal conflicts on a weekly (if not daily) basis. I say POTENTIAL because we have a fair bit of control over whether these actually develop into conflicts. Having two teenage children, right now, I have been reflecting A LOT on how to reduce interpersonal conflict (that should give you a clue as to how often these potential conflicts develop!). Occasionally, conflicts at work also occur… So, I read a useful article on “Five Secrets for Mastering Conflict” published by the “VitalSmarts” folks who are behind Crucial Conversations and CrucialSkills. Skills for Change. Change for Good.

Essentially, before having a crucial/difficult conversation…

  • Be truthful without being brutally honest. I like to call it compassionate honesty.
  • Get your facts straight first and link them to your feelings… don’t just share your feelings without facts, it turns people off and causes them to tune you out, fast.
  • Don’t listen defensively, listen with true intent to understand the other’s perspective.
  • Take honest responsibility for how YOU have contributed to the situation.
  • Instead of being afraid of saying something because you fear the costs, if things don’t go well, consider the costs if you don’t say what needs to be said and try to think positive about how the conversation could turn out if it goes well.

The possible problem with all this is that these skills directly relate to one’s Emotional Intelligence. So… if your EQ isn’t great, what do you do? Can an EQ be increased? The good news is, it can! It’s not easy but there are some basic, positives to get us going down the path to improvement. According to Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic in the Harvard Business Review, there are 5 key points to consider:

  1. We CAN change our EQ but long term improvements require plenty of hard work and guidance/feedback. Luckily, our EQ tends to naturally improve with age.
  2. Interpersonal Skills is the most coachable characteristic of one’s EQ.
  3. To improve, we need specific and accurate feedback – like, 360-degree feedback and other specific, accurate coaching processes.
  4. Since some techniques and processes are better than others, focus on the ones that are in the “cognitive-behavioral therapy” realm NOT the “self-esteem/confidence-building” realm.
  5. Some people are simply more coachable than others… this is not a reason to give up! This is a reason to do a coachability pre-assessment to help initially map the journey and increase the effectiveness of the coaching.

    From: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Emotional_Intelligence_2.0 This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported license.

    From: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Emotional_Intelligence_2.0
    This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported license.

The bottom line is, if you really want to improve, there are concrete ways to do it that can help you develop better interpersonal communication skills that can help reduce conflict. Here is another resource on improving one’s EQ:

Reflection: Is the “Why” of a school administrator the same “Why” as a teacher?

From DepartmentOfEd Flickr https://www.flickr.com/ photos/departmentofed/8102546041. CC use https://creativecommons.org/ licenses/by/2.0/legalcode

From DepartmentOfEd Flickr https://www.flickr.com/ photos/departmentofed/8102546041. CC use https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/legalcode

I have been fortunate to have spent the entire school day in several elementary, middle and high school classrooms in the past month. Why do I think this is fortunate?

Because, the fact is, we don’t often have the opportunity to witness a wide variety of teachers and students, in the classroom learning environment, for extended periods… and, it’s incredibly valuable!

I firmly believe that school administrators SHOULD spend as much time in classrooms as is practically possible. It can really help us concretely connect to the WHY of our jobs, it helps us connect to students, it helps us witness exemplary teaching (and, sometimes, not so

From US Army Corps of Engineers Europe District Flickr at https://www.flickr.com/photos/europedistrict/4595576424. Under CC license https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/legalcode

From US Army Corps of Engineers Europe District Flickr at https://www.flickr.com/photos/europedistrict/4595576424. Under CC license https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/legalcode

exemplary teaching)… in short, it gives us meaningful material to reflect on as we consider what we want our learners to achieve, how we know they are (or, aren’t) achieving that and what we need to do to ensure their success.

We all see with different lenses. This can be one of the greatest strengths for a learning community that is focused on the same questions and issues… as long as we truly consider the entire range of observations that come from our community.

Trust flows from a respect for each other’s ideas and the more we share our learning experiences and ideas with each other the more we can tackle the questions that answer why we are here, why we are educators… it is the same why. We just may have different ways of moving forward on supporting our learners.

Changing Paradigms for Changing Times? Thank you!

From: http://www.corwin.com/books/Book240618/ reviews#tabview=title

From: http://www.corwin.com/books/Book240618/ reviews#tabview=title

“The most important aspect of digital leadership is establishing a vision and a strategic plan for increasing authentic engagement of students in the teaching and learning process”  ~ Sheninger, Jan. 2014

So… I just finished reading Eric Sheninger‘s new book – Digital Leadership: Changing Paradigms for Changing Times. I also learned a new word. Heutagogical 

Here’s my conundrum: So often I feel that there’s this huge divide between those who are ‘on-board’ with digital literacy and leadership, supporting innovative education with passion and creativity, and those educators who are still pretty much stuck in the good ole days! I’m excited and honored to be connected to so many like-minded, 21st century focused educators but I feel like we often write about and promote ideas that are basically preaching to the choir. We read each others’ posts and share them/like them… It’s the educators who aren’t yet in the choir that we somehow need to connect to. How can we best do that!?

Sheninger does a great job of providing a plan for those who aren’t yet ‘connected’ to take those steps forward to become a digital leader. I have no doubt that many like-minded educators will greatly enjoy Digital Leadership. Hopefully, by reading this book, talking about this book and recommending it to others the ideas will spread.

So… the book. It provides a solid rationale for schools to start transforming into 21st century learning organizations. Sheninger lays out a very clear plan, with specific examples, for those who are just starting out to really embrace digital leadership. As Yong Zhao puts it, in the Foreword, “A framework for leading educational transformation with technology.” I was especially interested in his brief discussions of Web 3.0. Sheninger really pulls from all the current 21st century education thought leaders (Yong Zhao, Andrew Churches, Alec Couros, George Couros, Bill Ferriter and many more) as well as more traditional but still current educational leadership thought leaders like Michael Fullan and others.

There are so many wonderful points that Sheninger hits (the following are in no way a comprehensive list!):

  • The world has changed… and so must schools!
  • The array of digital tools available to schools to enhance learning, increase engagement, connect globally and communicate more effectively is enormous (Interactive White Boards. Chromebooks, Tablets, Web 2.0 apps [like Facebook, Twitter, Skype, Prezi, Wikis, Animoto, etc.], Video Conferencing software, OpenCourseWare, Massive Open Online Courses, Gaming, etc.)
  • The concept of space (virtual or physical) is the entry point for instructional change… AS LONG AS THE TEACHERS ARE EMBRACING LEARNING FOR TODAY AND TOMORROW!
  • Support and PD for teachers is ESSENTIAL… empower, articulate the why and how focused on improving learning, build capacity, use data and share it transparently… and, acknowledge the potential roadblocks.
  • Digital leaders model the vision… once you use the technology you can become an advocate for it.
  • Communication, Communication, Communication… connected to Branding, Strategic Partnerships and Public Relations (he hits Branding/PR and Strategic Partnership building very well and often!)
  • The “Pillars of Digital Leadership”: Communication; PR; Branding; Professional growth and development; Student Engagement/Learning; Opportunity; and, Learning Environment and Spaces are all aligned to the ISTE NETS-A AND the Breaking Ranks Framework.

Here’s a couple more of my favorite quotes from the book:

“Technology can engage, connect, empower, and enhance teaching, how educators learn, the work done by schools, and stakeholder relations”  p.45

…”Leaders become the epicenter of their learning and determine what, where,  and  when they want to learn… Connectedness and control of learning provides leaders with the ability to determine their own path and to differentiate to meet their diverse learning needs”. p.122

Here’s some of the many references he makes:

What I didn’t like so much: Not really addressing the issue of the growing divide between the ‘haves’ and the ‘have nots’. Basically, Sheninger said to not let that be an excuse to not take the steps to transform. I would agree with that but I would also like to see creative suggestions on how to deal with making the divide less pronounced. That said, within each school’s individual context there are ways to balance resources in a fair (but not equal) way that must be done with sensitivity and confidentiality. Sheninger gave the example of a laptop cart with less than a full class set of laptops that is used to supplement for those who don’t have a laptop.

Basically, there’s  a lot to like, a lot to reflect on and a lot to walk away with and immediately put to use.

REPOST – What “School Reformers” — And All Of Us — Can Learn From Pope Francis About Creating Change

What “School Reformers” — And All Of Us — Can Learn From Pope Francis About Creating Change.

I actually first saw this article in the Washington Post blog by Valerie Strauss (unfortunately, the Post doesn’t have a WordPress share button but Larry Ferlazzo’s blog does!).  As I browsed Ferlazzo’s blog I came across another post that resonated with me, “Important Advice For Anyone Who Wants To Be Effective At Making Change“…

The fact is, leaders who listen make a huge impact. Along with that, humility goes a long way. Pope Francis has certainly been a good model of those characteristics (“Who am I to judge?“). Being a good listener and a humble person are signs that you are truly open to other perspectives. However, beyond that a leader must have the acumen and powers of observation to be able to know who is who, what is what and be able to read the climate of the place they are in to best decide which leadership tools will be most effective as they create change. Some techniques are effective in many places but will not work all the time for all situations.

From: Harvard Business Review Twitter at https://twitter.com/HarvardBiz/status /354329065299271681/photo/1

From: Harvard Business Review Twitter at https://twitter.com/HarvardBiz/status /354329065299271681/photo/1

Building relationships and making connections is often understimated. Again, this seems to be something Pope Francis understands and does well. After all, what could help build relationships better than genuine caring, compassion and the passionate belief that each of us can make a difference? Business, social science and conventional wisdom have converged (“The Network Secrets of Great Change Agents”)… Building that interpersonal network, establishing strong relationships, is important anywhere!

Leadership, Motivation, Emotional Intelligence and Innovative Education… click.click.click.

From Alex Ragone's Flickr stream at: http://www.flickr.com/photos/ alexragone/3461563518/ No changes made.

From Alex Ragone’s Flickr stream at: http://www.flickr.com/photos/ alexragone/3461563518/
No changes made.

Here’s what I love about the internet (one thing, anyway)… it’s amazing how, if you just browse, your thoughts really can lead to anywhere through a series of mouse-clicks.

Case in point – I was reading “5 Habits of Innovative Educators” on the Huffington Post site (which I, of course, clicked my way to) and I thought, these are good ideas to share…  When I got to “4. They are passionately curious.” It made me think about an article title I had seen in my mail inbox but hadn’t read yet, “Why Recognizing Emotions Is a School Leadership Necessity“. Click. Click. That article ended with a references to a school’s emotional tone and school climate… hmmm, I just received ASCD’s Educational Leadership magazine for February centered on “Building School Morale“. Instead of trying to find the hard-copy of the magazine I just… Click… Went to ASCD’s website and clicked on the Educational Leadership tab to remind me about the various articles.

Common strands: Leadership, Motivation and Emotional Intelligence.

School leaders owe it to themselves and those they are surrounded by to develop habits that support innovation. In doing so they will inevitably engage on an emotional level with like-minded learners because they will be showing they are passionately curious, seeking feedback to improve and believe in their students. It is that emotional engagement and connection with others that helps keep motivation high. School climate is a direct responsibility of leaders. The interesting thing is, from my experience, once a leader acknowledges their role and contributes positively to the school climate, those around the leader also take responsibility for a positive school climate.  In a high morale, positive school climate, educators and learners feel safe taking risks, being creative and making more connections… voilà! Celebrate the cycle of innovation!

More than just leading by example…

Long time, no write… enjoying the California summer and catching up on some reading. I came across a parable that really resonated with me.

I’m not always a great fan of parables. Many are great… short, meaningful and clearly an example of a bigger idea. Some, I find, don’t clearly articulate the intended idea (or, I could just be a bit slow in that area… ). See what you think about this one:

A student assigned to write an essay about an effective leader wrote this story:

“I’ve been taking a bus to school for years. Most passengers keep to themselves and no one ever talks to anyone else.

“About a year ago, an elderly man got on the bus and said loudly to the driver, ‘Good morning!’ Most people looked up, annoyed, and the bus driver just grunted. The next day the man got on at the same stop and again he said loudly, ‘Good morning!’ to the driver. Another grunt. By the fifth day, the driver relented and greeted the man with a semi-cheerful ‘Good morning!’ The man announced, ‘My name is Benny,’ and asked the driver, ‘What’s yours?’ The driver said his name was Ralph.

“That was the first time any of us heard the driver’s name and soon people began to talk to each other and say hello to Ralph and Benny. Soon Benny extended his cheerful ‘Good morning!’ to the whole bus. Within a few days his ‘Good morning!’ was returned by a whole bunch of ‘Good mornings’ and the entire bus seemed to be friendlier. People got to know each other.

“If a leader is someone who makes something happen, Benny was our leader in friendliness.

“A month ago, Benny didn’t get on the bus and we haven’t seen him since. Everyone began to ask about Benny and lots of people said he may have died. No one knew what to do and the bus got awful quiet again.

“So last week, I started to act like Benny and say, ‘Good morning!’ to everyone and they cheered up again. I guess I’m the leader now. I hope Benny comes back to see what he started.”

(From Michael Josephson and the Josephson Institute of Ethics – original page: Commentary 838.4: A Parable About Leadership)

It’s not just walking the talk. This was a clear example of that. It also says that a leader must be persistent, confident and caring. Someone who knows he or she can make a positive change and then takes steps to do so. Finally, it says, empower others to keep the ball rolling… Good Morning!

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Age Old problem solved, the Zen way…How a glass is both half full, half empty and completely full at the same time. Photo credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/gothunkyourself/; used under the http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/2.0/ license