We are all leaders because we want to make a difference. And those of us who chose to be educational leaders know that we can’t leave the culture of our school/district to chance. To me, school and district culture is defined by how the people inside our organization (teachers, staff members, principals, and students) interact with one another. Culture is a learned behavior, not merely a shroud or cover. We create the culture of our school/district by the actions we take; not the other way around. We are responsible for the way it feels to work for our school/district.
Yes, we would like to have superior student outcomes while outperforming other schools. But what’s behind this notion? How will our lives be better for our teachers and students if we succeed?
Happiness First. Happiness is my #oneword2018, because I understand that if I am happy, I am much more likely to be successful. The ‘happiness first’ philosophy goes against much of what I was trained to believe – work hard and then you can play. Yet, I know that happiness lays the foundation for organizational culture. As the leader of an organization employing approximately 900, it is up to me to set the tone – my happiness matters and affects the happiness, productivity, and success of others.
The best leaders are those that bring people together. The deeper the social support we can create at work, the greater value we add to our school and district. We all want to be leaders known for bringing people together and accomplishing great things. To do this, we have to focus on increasing happiness for ourselves and for our teams.
Purposeful practices to increase happiness for yourself and your team:
- Start each day thinking of a positive, difference-making experience you’ve had recently. Spend at least 2-3 minutes remembering the details of that experience. By starting each day this way, your brain will be more likely to hold on to the positive energy, and your emails, classroom visits, and meetings will all intersect with that energy, influencing the way others perceive your presence.
- Build confidence in others. Identify at least one person you believe in, and let them know what it is about them that solidifies this confidence and trust. Do this by email or in person. They will appreciate the time you took to take notice.
- Work on developing a sense of belonging for others. Strengthen connections with folks by learning something about their personal lives, and really listening to what they have to say. Start meetings off by having team members share stories that relate to their work or things in their personal lives that add flavor to who they are.
- Try something you haven’t tried. I’m trying something new in blogging. Maybe you would like to connect with your team via Twitter or another social media venue. Think about a new behavior that might help you exceed your expectations, and give it a try. The sense of accomplishment can increase happiness for yourself – and might lead to authentic connections to which others can relate.
Which of these suggestions might work for increasing your own happiness? Which ones might increase the happiness of others?
What are some of the suggestions you have for starting the year as a leader?