It’s the most wonderful time of the year! What better time to reboot, revisit, revise, reflect, restructure, re-imagine, reinforce, and re-ignite your staff in preparation for a new year and a fresh start? Making a few simple questions a part of your day to day practice can help you ignite a culture of trust and transparency and give you the added benefit of getting the best thinking of your stakeholders. Here are five simple question-based practices you can use to reinvigorate your staff, programs, initiatives, and culture:
- Ask great questions and be a good listener: Embedding simple questions, like “Why?” or “So what do you think?” in the behaviors, systems, and practices of your education community can help you develop a culture of trust where those involved know that their thinking is valued. Demonstrate their value by listening, recording and asking for further clarification. Asking the right questions can help you get the best thinking of all involved. Embedding critical thinking strategies that are based on good questions can help you become a community of confident decision-makers and problem solvers.
- Be courageous: In Daring Leadership, Brene Brown tells leaders “that you have to walk through vulnerability to get to courage, therefore . . . embrace the suck.” Unlike the “knower-type” leader, who is defensive and has to be right, be a curious learner, one who is not about being right but getting it right. A curious learner wants, needs and seeks out the input of others by asking questions. These leaders value stakeholder’s input and includes “naysayers” with an open mind to understand their position and issues.
- Reflect and Assess: Ask, “how are we doing?,” examine the data and determine where you are in the plan. Identify barriers to success and areas where stakeholders should keep watching to ensure smooth implementation.
- Improve outgoing communication: Timely, accurate, relevant, consistent and sufficient information is appreciated and helps build trust and goodwill. To ensure the right information gets to the right people at the right time and in the right way—and to encourage two‐way flow of information as appropriate to solicit stakeholder opinions, perspectives, feedback, as desired, you need to be deliberate in your communications. Key questions to consider include: The purpose of the message, when it should occur, who is the audience, what is the content of the message, what vehicle will be used and who will deliver it. Keeping people well‐informed and involving them when possible demonstrates value for them and affects their commitment to a district or organization.
- Build Capacity: As you demonstrate your willingness to continually, learn, provide those around you with the same opportunities to learn and grow as leaders. Building the capacity of your team, can help them become better leaders and team members. Empower those in your community to work smarter for better outcomes for children.
The end of the year is a great time to plan for “what comes next,” assess where you are to date, and light the fires of those around you. Listening and learning builds the trust and transparency that you will need to move your district forward. Taking your team to the next level by incorporating these five practices into your culture will help you get the best thinking of your staff and give them the gift of increased capacity and confidence.