TregoED Blog

Leadership Performance Improvement Programs: Worth the Effort? Do They “Stick”?

Effective leadership is defined by results.  Peter Drucker has written that all leaders have two major responsibilities:  First, to personally be an effective leader and second to help those with whom they work to be successful in their own work.   

The importance of results compels districts to make the improvement of leadership capabilities a critical objective.  Significant resources, time and energy, are invested by schools in leadership development in order to improve personal and organizational performance with the hope of improved effectiveness and results. 

The crucial question, then, is how to assure that the leadership training “sticks”?   Or, if after we get back on the job, will “life get in the way”?   Will we resort back to previous behaviors?   We all know from experience that sustaining performance improvement efforts and making change “stick” is a truly challenging task.  So, how can we “encourage” our staff to change and to use new skills? 

In districts where TregoED has seen consistent progress in the successful integration of new skills into the district “way of life”, there has been an INTENTIONAL PLAN for developing both the

  1. Personal Competency of team members for putting the new skills into practice and
  2. District’s Capacity to Support the use of the new skills.

Personal Competency—In these successful districts, the following three elements are explicitly addressed by top district leadership:  Expectations; Accountability, and Evaluation. 

a)     Expectations:  It is clear to all that the district expects to see the new skills used as administrators address everyday challenges…that the initiative will not go away! 

b)    Accountability: This, of course, is the corollary to Expectations.  It requires that team members provide evidence of their use of the new skills.  The requirement to keep a Personal Portfolio can be an effective way of documenting the “process” journey, as an example. 

c)     Evaluation: This is probably the bottom line.  Knowing that the personal use of these new skills will be a part of evaluation conversations will create a level of concern that will encourage the use of the skills in administrator’s daily work. .  The Personal Portfolio could be a key focus of the discussions. 

District Capacity to Support the Use of New Leadership Skills:   If the new skills are to “stick”, I believe that the district needs to treat the expectation of skill integration into daily performance as a major project.    Some aspects to consider: 

a)     Team Leader:  There must be someone who has the responsibility to help keep the leadership team focused and intentional about using the processes.  Without this leadership, there is a high likelihood that the new skill use will be very uneven and have little systemic or long-term impact. 

b)    Project Steering Committee:  Their role is to help the Team Leader and the district leadership identify needs and to develop strategies for supporting successful implementation.  

Training is often a critical element if a district is to successfully implement a new initiative.  But, TregoED has found that training alone is not sufficient.  Districts can improve the connection between training and “results by setting expectations, requiring evidence of performance, and having the evaluation system reflect the importance of the initiative.  

What do YOU think?  Please share your experiences with leadership performance efforts!!!

  • What has been your experience as you have participated in leadership improvement efforts?
  •  Have you seen these efforts lead to improved personal and district improvement? 
  • What has hindered this progress? 
  • What has accelerated it?