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Principles of Confrontation

Leading people will always be difficult and not everyone will follow. That is natural. It will be impossible to get everyone to follow 100% of the time. People stray. That is in our inherent part of our imperfect lives that we live.

Due to this flaw that is ingrained in all of us, there will always be a time for confrontation in our lives. That could be a confrontation with a spouse (careful guys, this might not work out for you), a family member, friend, or even a colleague. Regardless, confrontation is part of our lives.

At that moment when you know that you as a leader must confront somebody for whatever reason, remember these eight simple steps to help guide you and preserve the relationship.

  1. Be firm – This is important. The other person cannot come away from the conversation thinking that it was a casual conversation between both of you. It is not fair to them and certainly will not get you anywhere.
  2. Affirm all you see that is good – Everybody likes hearing good things. Especially when it is a good thing about themselves coming from another individual. Who doesn’t like compliments? Take this moment seriously and do not berate the individual. Provide them with some good from the conversation as well. It will make swallowing that “pill” ever so much easier.
  3. Be accurate and honest – When you are describing the situation that has to lead you to this confrontation, be as accurate as possible. Also, be honest with them. If it bothered you, let them know that it bothered you.
  4. Know the facts – When confronting an individual, make sure that you know the facts behind their actions. Some people make mistakes and don’t know they are making them until someone points them out. Give them as much feedback as possible in this initial conversation. You will not want to come back later to give them more. You will just make them feel like you are attacking them.
  5. Follow up after the confrontation – Always follow up with the individual after the confrontation. Check back in with them and see how they are progressing after receiving your feedback. One of the biggest things I hate is when I receive feedback and my supervisor fails to connect with me later on and let me know how I am progressing or asking me how things are going. This is important, at least it is for me, to help preserve the relationship and lets me know what I have improved on or what I still need to work on.
  6. Be gentle after being firm – It is always easier to fall back and be gentle after that initial confrontation. It is more damaging to the relationship and the organization if your actions are gentle up front and then realize that you must be firm.
  7. Speak words that reflect the message and not your ideas – Use your word carefully. You only get to use them once. Make sure that you are sending the message and not sending ideas. The message must be received if you want to affect real change. Ideas are for sharing and discussing.
  8. Use discipline only when all else fails – There are times after the initial confrontation where nothing changes. It does not mean that you did not follow these steps or were not successful with these steps and the relationship. Sometimes some people simply do not want to change. After multiple attempts, then you will need to resort to discipline. BE CAREFUL!! This is the step that will certainly change the relationship. Rarely, does it change it and make it better.  This step is to ensure that the message is clear and will be followed. Sometimes discipline is necessary, but it must be used with caution. The purpose of any discipline is to help people, not hurt them.

Thank you for taking the time to read these tips on confrontation. I hope they will serve you well in your leadership journey.

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Started off the year strong! What happened?!?

Oh boy! I started off the year strong. Reading, writing, connecting. All the things important to relationships and our unique human existence. The first five days of the year I hit this blog each day. What happened?!?

Life! As the year progresses, and by year I mean the school year. Things will get away from you that is not part of your daily routine. While I tried to make writing on this blog a daily routine, it just simply got away from me.

Now that we are on spring break, I am getting another opportunity to recharge my batteries and start over. It seems like whenever the busyness of the year gets a break, that is when my mind can refocus and start new things.

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Windshields vs. Rear View Mirrors

It is ironic that today’s post is about windshields and rear view mirrors and that I wrote this as we are driving in our Explorer that has a smashed rear view mirror and just seconds ago got a chip in the windshield from a flying rock.

The questions comes to mind as we drive down the highway.  Why are windshields larger than rear view mirrors? Forward vision is far more important than the vision that is behind you. While you do need to see behind you to remind you of where you have been so you can use those lessons as growth.

The vision in schools is much the same.  Leaders need to have large windshields in their schools. They cannot ignore the rear view mirrors as those help provide direction as they move forward.

Having a forward vision is great. Nobody wants to follow a leader who has no idea where they are going. People want leaders to have a vision and share that vision with them. They also don’t want a leader who does not use their rear view mirrors.

When I think about the rear view mirrors, it reminds me of what all great leaders do when they enter into a new school. They take the time not to change anything but use those mirrors to see where they are coming from. From there they can use that information to help align their vision.

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Manager or Leader? Can you be both?

We have all had them. Bosses that we try to avoid at all costs. Supervisors who you feel are always on your back or constantly looking over their shoulders at you. It is reasonable to say that we have all had a supervisor that was not our favorite and then we have had one that was our favorite. How does one determine that? Is your favorite the one that you were able to do pretty much whatever you wanted or the one that you were able to develop a good relationship with?

I think for many it comes down to the path of least resistance. At the secondary level, many high schools hire teachers who are independent contractors. Their room, is their way. While there is some truth to that, they makeup only one classroom as part of an entire team and depending on the size of your school determines the size of the team.

When it comes down to that leader, you like them for not what they said or what they did for you, you like them because of how they made you feel. It is easy to want to stay away from somebody who make you feel bad, but when that person makes you feel good, you want to be around them.

Everybody prefers leaders over managers. That is almost a given. We have all seen those pictures online that show managers riding on top of the teams back pointing the direction and making them do all the work vs. the leader in front of the team encouraging them on. But in aspects of the job, there are things you must manage, and people you must lead.

Dan Rockwell wrote a post entitled HOW TO KNOW IF YOU’RE A MANAGER OR A LEADER

In his post he gives some great examples of what you do when you are a manager. Managers write budgets, solve day-to-day problems, track processes and monitor results, hire, fire, and concern themselves with job descriptions.

Leaders on the other hand set direction and vision, align people, inspire, and seize opportunities. Managers work with things, leaders work with people.

I would encourage you over these next few months to look into your daily life and put yourself in check. Are you working with things or are you working with people?

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Back at it…

Today I am back at it. Tonight we have a home basketball game that I will be at to help supervise with our athletic director.  I will be heading into the school a couple of hours beforehand in order to get some things done.  I have some observations that I need to finish writing up and need to get my office back in order to I can successfully start the second half of the year.  It is so hard to believe that we are almost halfway through the school year already.  We have done lots of work and there is still lots to do.

As a leader, it is important to remember that while the work is important and we must get down into the trenches, the relationships are more important.  Without relationships, we have no work.  We are called as a human race into relationships with one another.  If you are a leader and you have no relationships, who is following you?  If nobody is following you, how are you a leader?  Very important questions to ponder as your progress through your daily work.

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You can be grateful for lessons, even the hard ones

Life can be tough.  Nobody ever said it was easy.  There are many trials and tribulations that we all face from time to time but we are always stronger for coming through them.  Everyone around you has had them or is currently going through them.  If not, they will be.  When times get tough that is when we grow.

Ella Fitzgerald once sang “into each life a little rain must fall”.  While we cannot control how much rain falls in our lives, we can choose to put up an umbrella or put on rain coat.  Others choose to just let the rain fall.  Regardless, we have a choice in how we respond in difficult times.  We can either shutdown and let ourselves be hardened by it, or we can choose to learn by it and grow from the experience.

As we grow from experiences, we develop a set of beliefs that we rely upon each day, it is the foundation in which we build our daily lives.  When it “rains” in our lives, it is very unexpected.  An unexpected rainstorm can be catastrophic.  Only well built foundations will survive a tremendous downpour.  Foundations that are already rocky will need support.

As a leader, we experience rain in our lives as well.  Just like our teachers and our students.  We must make sure that our foundations are built tough as there will come a time that one of the staff or students will have rain in their lives and it will disrupt their very being.  It will be our job to stand in the gap and help support them in their time of need.

I often think about this question.  More now than I have in the past.  Ever since my Father-in-Law past in November 2017, this question really does come to mind in many different aspects. What’s one hard lesson you are grateful life taught you in the past year?  For me as a leader, 2017 and most of 2018 was not easy due to his passing.  He passed in the middle of the school year but was diagnosed right before the first day of school.  So we were living this right from what we all wanted to be a great school year.

Having to navigate this rainstorm was not easy.  As I reflect back on it and all that I and my family has learned over this time, I am grateful for the lessons that this storm has brought into mine and my families life.  Our foundation is stronger for having come through that storm.

As you go forward, I would encourage you to look at the others around you and see where you can help them through their storm.

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Sometimes a little bit of snow makes things a whole lot better

A few days ago we got a small dusting of snow on the ground.  Not like what we had two years ago (see slider below).  That is something that I would never like to repeat again.

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There is just something about the fresh snow fall, even when it is only a dusting.  It is calm and peaceful.  Why is this?  How does this different phase of water cause a change in us as humans?  Is it the color of snow?

I love the peacefulness that it brings even when it comes in small doses.  I grew up in an area where it did not snow every year, so moving out to Eastern Oregon was a blessing in that we were going to get more snow than what we had living on the coast.  Now nobody told us that the first winter living out here would be a 100 year winter and that even the people in their late 80s never saw a winter like that, but we endured.  The next year, just the extreme opposite.

Back to the snow.  It is filled with peace and a calming sense.  Teachers are like a fresh blanket of snow.  They create that peacefulness and calming sense that students get each day.  For many students, this is the only place that they get this. They don’t get this at home with their parents due to survival.  Parents want to create that atmosphere for their children, but many need to work two even three jobs in order to give their kids a roof over their heads.

Teachers on the other hand can give this sense of security for students each day.  Bring them peace and a calming sense to their daily lives.