|Leadership: Secrets of Change|
Jennifer Olson, principal
Humphrey Elementary, Howard Lake-Waverly-Winsted
Six Secrets of Change:
What the best leaders do
I participated in a book study
this summer, discussing Michael Fullan’s The
Six Secrets of Change: What the Best Leaders Do to Help Their Organizations
Survive and Thrive. Fullan discusses six secrets to his
philosophy for change: love your
employees, connect peers with purpose, capacity building prevails, learning is
the work, transparency rules, and systems learn. In order to increase the
chances of bringing about lasting change within an organization, we should be
reflecting on the parts of the whole community. Here is a snapshot of his six
secrets, right or wrong.
Love Your Employees. We
have a duty to invest in our staff as well as our students. Enabling staff to
find meaning, learn continuously and find personal satisfaction in making
contributions that simultaneously fulfill their own goals as well as our
organization’s goals, is where we will see the most marketable growth. In other
words, create an environment where everyone
feels valued, has purpose, and develops professional skills.
Connect Peers with Purpose. Our job as educational leaders is to provide direction for
peer interaction that is purposeful and effective, and intervene when things
are not working as well as they should. Connections should be about rallying
around a higher purpose, and having knowledgeable conversations as we pursue
and learn what works best. Peers’ enlarged identity and commitment are the
social glue that enables the global thought process. It’s no longer ‘my
classroom’ but rather ‘our school.’
Capacity Building Prevails. High capacity individuals possess and continue to develop
skills and knowledge base, attract and use resources wisely, and are committed
to accomplishing goals. What can we do to accomplish this? Hire and cultivate
the talents of staff. Ask yourself “why would great people want to work here?”
Motivation is a key component of high capacity.
Learning is the Work. The
fourth secret focuses on teachers learning within the setting in which they
work, and combining personalization, precision, and professional learning. Our
most important job as educational leaders is to teach staff to become more
effective. Modeling, continual practice, and additional support help move
towards self-reliance. Should we look for whom to blame for a problem? No, our
goal is to find out where the system failed and learn from it.
Transparency Rules. Transparency
involves being open about results and practices, and targeting problems that
recur. It also means being open about what practices are most strongly
connected to successful outcomes. Transparency builds credibility and trust --
which provides learning opportunities between staff, connects them with common
goals, and provides purpose and meaningful conversation. Are you noticing
Fullan’s secrets are fully interconnected? He openly acknowledges this partnership throughout his book.
Success can and does occur focusing on only one or two of the six secrets. Without
taking all of them into consideration, however, the success will be shortlived.
Systems Learn. In
order for learning to take place, we as leaders need to remember these things: take credit and some blame, project
confidence, talk about the future, and be specific about the few things that
matter and keep repeating them. As a whole, we can learn on a continuous basis.
Our job is to be humble in the face of complexity, be committed, and
continually seek knowledge.
My reflection of the read? Fullan’s challenge to the reader is to view things from
different perspectives, learn from past mistakes, be bold in our vision and
cautious in our planning. Although his secrets are common sense, it was a good
reminder to reevaluate who I am and the global communities in which I work. It
is important for educators to support others, be honest and open to change, and
admit that we don’t know everything (or as much as we’d like!). Here’s hoping
you find your balance for a fantastic school year and that putting the secrets
into action will inspire others to rise to the challenge.
(Published in the MESPA Advocate, September 2010)