As educators, we understand well the value of resilience for learners. Resilience is the capacity to persist even when faced with overwhelming obstacles – the kinds that might fell an average person. Resilience ensures growth and progress despite significant challenges or circumstances.
But what about resilience as leaders? How are we demonstrating resilience on the most critical problems we face? Each district has its own unique set of persistent, complicated problems, e.g.: lackluster student achievement by sub-groups, lower than desired graduation rates, inequities in discipline, chronic teacher absenteeism.
These types of problems may prevent achievement of key strategic or operational goals. They typically have no quick and easy solutions and may incite frustration and division within communities. These problems can feel like a millstone around the necks of district leaders. Significantly, resolving these problems almost always takes sustained focus, patience and courage to persist.
Success requires us to “dig in” to important problems, to never lose sight of what is within our control and what we can do. Do we blame factors “out of our control,” get absorbed by lesser issues, or hope the problem goes away? If so, we are letting ourselves get derailed or sidetracked – we are not demonstrating our resilience as leaders. Instead, how can we demonstrate resilience when faced with insurmountable or overwhelming odds? Some ways include:
- Call out and expose critical problems – it’s a first step to action
- Fearlessly gather data – unafraid to learn exactly how big a problem is, how long it’s been around, etc. – “knowledge is power”
- Maintain focus on resolving critical problems. “We fail more often because we solve the wrong problem than because we get the wrong solution to the right problem.” (Russell Ackoff – organizational theorist)
How do you or other leaders demonstrate resilience?