Sometimes there are leaders who work hard but they spend most of their time chasing the circumstances they may be in. They are constantly chasing a goal, but not sure what that goal is because it changes frequently depending on what they hear from others and what they read in books, blogs and articles.
Just like there are habits of highly successful leaders, there are habits that can bring leaders to a place of ineffectiveness. Those ineffective habits are:
Be reactive – Leaders who always seem to not see things coming, and lack the ability to work with their school community on a collective goal.
There’s no end in mind – Everyone in the school is working on their individual goals…if they have one…and the leader doesn’t think about the future as much as they keep getting stuck in issues in the present.
Ego first – In Jim Knight’s work we talk a lot about status. Leaders have it because of their position. However, great leaders have status but they lower theirs and raise the status of those around them, which is often referred to self-efficacy. Unfortunately there are leaders who let their ego rule and that’s what they lead with every time.
My way or the highway – Instead of focusing on win/win these leaders are more concerned with controlling everything and getting their own way. They walk into a faculty meeting with one idea and walk out with the same one.
Seek to be understood – Ego first. My way or the highway. Get on board or get out.
Discord – These leaders always seem to be in disagreement with someone and they try their best to build consensus by getting others to agree with them at the same time they vilify those who disagree with them.
Efficacy Killers – These leaders are consistently going after new initiatives so their staff feel tired, lost and insecure. They micromanage and look for compliance on all issues. This behavior does the opposite of building self-efficacy. It kills it. It is the reason why there are teachers in schools who feel a lack of self-efficacy, which Bandura (1977) showed to have negative effects on students. Teachers with a low level of self-efficacy don’t feel as though they can have a positive impact on their students.
In the End
Leadership is hard but it’s also important. Vitally important. And it begins with how leaders treat people. Unfortunately, if you’re a leader and you’re reading this, I’m probably preaching to the choir. Ineffective leaders are those who have all of the attributes from the above list. Have you worked for one? What would you do differently?
Understand however, that we can have situations where we may show one of those attributes in the ineffective list. For example, maybe we spend too much time being reactive. Is it possible to survey, interview and create focus groups of stakeholders to help us understand our current reality to help change from ineffective to effective? Can we work with a leadership coach to help us create a goal and achieve it?
Leadership isn’t about getting what we want and feeding our egos. Leadership is about raising the self-efficacy of others and collectively working to improve our school community together. That happens in creative communities more than it happens in compliant communities, and we know which 7 habits belong to each one.
To read more of Peter DeWitt, Ed.D.’s thoughts on leadership visit here.