Last year, as a member of the campus leadership development team, I began to work on an initiative to change the way learning happens on my campus. The district has been working on keeping up with trends in education and technology, but there has not yet been a significant change in the way learning happens. The district even invested in bringing 21st Century Learning training, which included an influx of Chromebooks for the teachers who attended. Still, the learning wasn’t seriously affected. As I have learned from this course of study, offering the new techniques and technology wasn’t enough to make the teachers want to change their approach to learning. There are many ways the district could have moved these teachers to embrace change, ways which I plan to apply to my own initiative to ensure its success. By following this process, I can put my initiative into action without causing extra stress and burden to teachers.
Before I can move on any of the strategies for change, I must first make sure that I am the best leader that I can be. Freidman’s theory of self-differentiation will allow me to separate myself from others and my emotion from reasoning. Because I am extremely passionate about my job and the initiative, I will have to work toward controlling my emotional responses. More importantly, I will have to work toward being able to focus on the emotions of those around me instead of my own. If I am able to read their emotional response to the proposed changes, I can better troubleshoot to make them feel safe and encourage them to join the movement. I can learn how to keep the focus of our conversations on mutual purpose and mutual respect. By learning to master my emotions and recognize the emotions of others, I can work on becoming a self-differentiated leader. Being a self-differentiated leader will not come easy, but I can begin the process by making sure I stay focused on the people, not the initiative itself.
The first step in the process is to involve the hearts of the team. The logical and rational details are not enough to move people through the effort of change. Dr. King did not move thousands of people on the National Mall through logic and reason, but through tapping into their hearts and humanity. Simon Sinek points out that, “Working hard for something we don’t care about is called stress; working hard for something we
love is called passion.” If we can engage the hearts of the team, they will be willing to push through the challenge to success. This would require a Why statement that drives the initiative forward. As the saying goes, the head won’t go where the heart hasn’t been. For this initiative, choosing team members who care about our at-risk students will be a priority. The heart of this initiative lies in offering options for learning to these at-risk students who may feel like school is not for them. By tapping into their personal life goals, we plan to provide learning opportunities that do not exist in a traditional classroom. Some teachers’ expertise lies in the college-bound student, or the ELL student…but this particular initiative will require the heart and patience of the teacher who is willing to struggle alongside the student who is disengaged from the current system.
Utilizing the Influencer model will put the initiative into action. In addition to establishing the heart and drive for the team, the change agent must identify the major influencers in the organization. Leaders who can utilize the influencers in an organization will have a Trojan Horse style advantage. Similarly, reducing the impact of the resisters will be a priority. Winning over the resisters will limit the damage they can do and double the positive influence on the campus. Once these influencers have been identified, vital behaviors should be established.
The vital behaviors are the specific, high-leverage actions that will lead to the desired results. The most important element of the Influencer model are the six sources of influence. Identifying the motivation and ability of the personal, social, and structural elements of the organization. For this initiative, training may be necessary on PBL or individualized learning models for the personal ability. The development of a collaborative teaching space will aide the social motivation and ability sections, allowing teachers to model strategies in view of others.
The third step is to develop an execution strategy. The 4DX model from The 4 Disciplines of Execution will guide the team through a process that respects the daily whirlwind that is already present in our busy, professional lives.
The 4 Disciplines of Execution are:
Discipline 1: Focus on the Wildly Important Goal– Only one or two WIGs should be in play at one time to improve the chances of success.
Discipline 2: Act on the Lead Measures– Lead measures and lag measures are identified by the team. “While a lag measure tells you if you’ve achieved the goal, a lead measure tells you if you are likely to achieve the goal (McChesney et al. p. 45). The difference between the two is a lead measure can influence change and a lag measure can only reflect what has happened.
Discipline 3: Keep a Scoreboard– After the team develops the scoreboard, they mark their progress as they work through the process. The scoreboard is a visual reminder to stay the course and continue working toward the WIG.
Discipline 4: Create a System of Accountability– Following up with the team on a regular basis to make sure that each member is working toward achieving the goal is important. Using the data from the scoreboards will allow the team to see who needs more support in achieving the team goals. The scoreboard also allows the team to publicly acknowledge and celebrate progress and success, no matter how small. Seeing that the team is winning, even in small increments, is important for maintaining morale.
These steps make me feel more prepared to move the campus toward a more student-driven system, but I know there will still be those who are resistant to change or who are difficult to get on board. Which brings me to the final step…becoming a self-differentiated leader. The term “self-differentiated” means that a person can separate emotion from reality and themselves from others.
The steps require patience and planning, but following these steps will help to ensure the success of the initiative. Engaging in an execution plan will dramatically increase the chance of success. Each of these pieces will improve the chance of success, but together they work as an overall strategy for success.
1. Start with why.
2. Utilize the Influencer model and identify key influencers.
3. Apply the 4Dx implementation strategy.