The Failings of Leadership

Posted in Leadership,Uncategorized by iwonderstand on July 9, 2016
Tags: , ,

I entered my WordPress editor intent on writing a post about the importance of work-life balance, the importance of visioning for the future but taking care of today… and then the title just wrote itself. Now where did that come from? Do I think I am a failure? Do I think that my leaders are failures? Not at all… so what is rumbling around in my mind on a Saturday morning??

Just like expertise does not imply that someone is an expert, failings do not imply that someone is a failure. I have been fascinated by root words and word origins lately (my FB post on awful is another blog post entirely), but I think that failings in leadership are important to consider, analyze, and learn from. Life is not a Lego Movie, where “Everything is Awesome”.

Life is real, and leaders are continuously trying to vision and step forward. If we look at failings as learnings, we can move away from deficit thinking for ourselves and others.

As a full time professional learning facilitator, I firmly believe in “Walking the Walk” rather than simply “Talking the Talk”. One example is facilitating workshops on differentiation. I remember having a long discussion with a school division leader who was frustrated that “we have told our Principals over and over again for multiple years that their teachers need to differentiate. Differentiation is the key to student learning.” I am sure you can spot the irony in this statement. It is the irony of attending a lecture about how lecture is one of the most ineffective teaching methods. My question back to that school division leader was “how are you differentiating the learning for the Principals in your learning time with them?” Unfortunately, we know that too often the answer is – we are not. We have all attended professional learning about math tasks without ever engaging in a math task; we have attended professional learning about formative assessment without the facilitator ever using formative assessment and responding appropriately. So, in a workshop on math stations, you should experience stations; in a workshop on comprehension strategies, you should use them to learn the content of the workshop. This is my firm belief, and we in our professional development unit work hard to live that belief in every workshop that we do…

How is this related to the failings of leadership? I think about another strong belief that I have – that family and life and people are more important than tasks and email and work… and my failing as a leader is that I don’t “Walk the Walk”, I simply “Talk the Talk” about work-life balance or whatever other analogy you use. I encourage my staff to have work-life balance, and then promise that I will work on it after I get caught up. I don’t model that it can actually be done. I don’t provide a living example that my team can say “Hey, she gets her work done within the confines of the work day.” or “Look, she has taken ALL of her holiday time!” or even “She hasn’t sent an email at 10:00 PM on a Friday night lately!”

So… a failing is something to consider, analyze and learn from. I need to consider the gap between belief and being a living example. I need to analyze what actions are within my control that I can do less of/more of/stop/start. I need to learn from that analysis, and for the sake of the most wonderful team and family possible, I need to learn and change. I need to begin the Walk…


Photo by Auzigog – Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike License https://www.flickr.com/photos/8039488@N07


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