I want to tell you about a sign that I saw today. I finished my fitness class at the gym and came downstairs to go to the sauna, which is inside the inner part of the pool area. As I was coming out from the sauna, picking up my bag, preparing to leave the pool, I was reading the posted pool rules – not because I was getting in, but I noticed them for the first time. The sign said, “Please do not drink the pool water.” Think about that for a second.. .
Please do not drink the pool water. My first thought was, “EWWW! Who would want to drink the pool water?” But my second thought was, “There’s a reason that is there as a pool rule.” Management must have encountered or anticipated someone drinking the pool water and felt the need to create this rule.
So WHAT? In education and as leaders, we need to be explicitly clear about our expectations. Even if it seems like you want to say, DUH, everybody should know to do this, that’s not necessarily true. Also, we have to be sure when we are communicating the expectations – what people should be doing and how they should be doing it – that we are also sharing the WHY as well.
Now, the pool rules did not tell me why I should not drink the water, but I am sure we all know it is probably not good to ingest the chlorine treated water and goodness knows what else is in there. So why am I sharing this? Expectations or standards mean nothing if no one knows they exist or if people do not have an understanding about the execution of the rules.
What are the job requirements that are explicitly communicated in your organization, your team, your classroom? And if you have an expectation that is continuously being ignored or not followed, maybe it is time to revisit it. When was this expectation communicated? How and by who? What new conversations need to be had? What do I need to do with it? Maybe you are working with people and supporting people and you are part of the system of helping people to meet an expectation that was not your directive. Well then share that! “You know, the district office would like us to…”, or “The principal has shared…” it is not about placing blame or not taking responsibility. It is about being explicitly clear: where this requirement came from and why it is important that we carry it out.
So I will bring you just my thoughts about things that I see or learn or read about that connect to my way of being as far as leadership. Keep in mind, leadership isn’t a title; it is a mindset, an identity that can belong to each and every one of us, and it can be developed.
Rise Up and Lead