Think about the expression, “run through a wall.” Literally to hurl oneself into a wall made of bricks knowing the outcome. The passion behind that statement is what I’ve always connected with. The belief in the leader that running through the wall seems like the only choice. I’ve been led by people that have made me want to do that and hopefully have led others to feel the same way.
As a leader, I am working tirelessly towards one main goal with our staff. I want to create a culture where every single person on the staff is willing to run through a wall for me. Now, it’s not actually for me. It’s for a student in a tough situation, a parent who is very upset, a new state mandate, or a curriculum change. The “wall” is really all of the adverse situations that come up during the year and the mindset of the staff members which is put to the test. It happens every month, possibly every week, and maybe even every day. I want them to be able to run through a wall for our common vision, our purpose, and what our staff is striving towards. “How” you do that is an entirely different blog post, but it’s built on relationships, trust, shared ownership, and a common vision.
What is the potential for a school staff when you want to run through that wall for each other? The leader does for their staff? The staff does for their leader? The staff does for each other?
None of those thoughts are unique or new to me. But this week, something did change. During “Boss’s Day” on Monday, I received an amazing gift from the staff here at school. It was about 30 individual note cards of what people appreciated about my work as a principal. I’m not exactly sure why, but they really hit a chord. I maybe dropped a tear or two in my office as I read through them. I think they were especially touching because they used so many of the words/phrases I strive towards as a leader: person first-employee second, transparent, real, work-life balance, approachable, passion for my job, and relationships with students-staff. But it made me stop and think something that I’m not sure I ever thought before, at least not in these terms.
In a career where I’ve focused so much of my time and energy trying to get the staff to run through a wall for me, would I run through a wall for them?
I feel like I’ve always supported teachers. I hope they would say I’ve had their back. But that’s not exactly the same as “running through a wall” for them. While trying to get 40 people to run through a wall for me, would I run through a wall for each of those 40? Well, moments like reading those note cards made me stop and consider it. I’m sure I’ve thought of it, but never quite in this way.
Back to the drawing board. How can I help to create the culture where the staff wants to run through a wall for the leader, for each other, and the leader for the staff?