Growing Success to Positively Impact Culture

The Iceberg Illusion

Via @sylviaduckworth http://bit.ly/1HHiad9

Who doesn’t love Sylvia Duckworth‘s sketchnotes (check them all out on Fickr)? Her latest is The Iceberg Illusion, with “success” being the iceberg. While our stakeholders (teachers, students, parents, community and fellow administrators) may be able to identify “success,” they don’t necessarily understand all the factors “behind the scenes” — dedication, hard work and good habits; disappointment, sacrifice, failure and persistence.

Seeing Sylvia’s sketchnote prompted me to think about success from a leadership perspective and how we grow it in ourselves and in our organization to positively impact culture. This is especially relevant as we here in PA use the Framework for Leadership to evaluate school leadership. One of the components in the framework happens to be,“celebrating accomplishments and using failures to positively impact culture.”  Here are three steps you can follow as a leader to meet this component:

  1. Be self-aware. As a leader start with yourself. What do you define as your professional (or personal) successes? Practice reflecting on the “unseen” factors – dedication, hard work, good habits, disappointment, sacrifice, persistence and failure. Write about these in a journal or blog about it, if appropriate. Make self-reflection a habit of mind, one that you become so comfortable with that you can effectively move to step 2…
  2. Understand the “unseen” in the successes of individuals in your organization. This is done through conversations. Having become self-aware following the process of identifying and reflecting on success, find the individual successes in your school and strike up a conversation with those responsible for doing good things for learners. This is an opportunity to practice providing effective feedback, communicating appreciation and modeling inquiry, uncovering those “unseen” factors. Find opportunities to share what you learn through whatever means you currently use, including social media. You might also want to find avenues for sharing that model the process for students. Doing so could be a teachable moment – an opportunity for students to learn the value of the “unseen” factors of success first hand.
  3. Understand the “unseen” in your successes as an organization. Having started with yourself and moved to individuals in your organization, gather several minds together and collaboratively understand the successes of your organization where the success is distributed among many stakeholders, including students. Maybe this is a building or student leadership team doing innovative work – redesigning learning spaces, re-imaginng professional development or redesigning curriculum. As with #2, find opportunities to share the learning through various means, including social media. Use your successes and the “unseen” work as a beacon for those of us outside your organization doing similar work and as an opportunity to tell your own story.

In what ways do you use individual and organizational success to positively grow culture?

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