Monday, January 11, 2016

Start Somewhere

It doesn't matter how much you want to get somewhere if you never take that first step.

Recently I have been pushed by my colleagues to think about how I lead. And I am the one who encouraged them to share and therefore become a voice in my process of reflection.

Each year I give those that I work with a Staff Satisfaction Survey to gage how their year is going so far. My administrative team (myself and Samantha Althouse), ask about 20-25 questions and even give text space for our entire staff to share their attitudes and feelings about their school experience. We also encourage them share suggestions and solutions for growth. Their voice is essential in this process.

One of the unique pieces about this survey is that it is anonymous. Yep. No names, no content area, nothing other than how many years they have been in the building. Some would never consider doing this. We on the other hand, welcome it. We give the survey twice a year. Once in the late fall/early winter and the other in the spring. Our goal is simple: to become better leaders. The feedback we get is intense, thought-provoking, assuring and at times, painful. We are glad we ask the questions and we are open to the responses.

As you can imagine it is the raw, reflective and powerful feedback that we get that makes it worthwhile. Some responses are right where we thought they would be while others, well, let's just say it gives us plenty to plan for and work on in the days, weeks and months ahead. 

The one thing we do know for sure by going through this process is that we always have an opportunity to grow in what we do. That is something to embrace.

We know the work will not be easy. It will uncomfortable at that.

That is all fine by me, with us. We know as leaders and as teachers we have to start somewhere.

As leaders we cannot grow complacent and comfortable. We as leaders should not take the path of least resistance nor find a path that has the fewest number of obstacles. Those paths are safe. Those paths are easy. That path goes nowhere. If we want to achieve, we have to push the boundaries. We have to be willing to reflect, to learn, to grow.

Our survey guarantees that in order for us to move our organization forward we must embrace "productive discomfort".

Reflect, grow, change, lead, listen, learn and be willing to make tough decisions. We have to start somewhere and that somewhere starts today.


  1. Craig,

    I admire your courage to seek such open and anonymous feedback from your staff. That shows a high level of trust and great modeling for improvement for your staff. Thanks for sharing and inspiring!


  2. Yes Craig!!! You are a courageous leader... You set an extremely high bar for the rest of us!

  3. "Our goal is simple: to become better leaders."

    THAT is one powerful line, Craig. And THAT is precisely what reflective , goal-oriented leadership is all about. It's rare and at times, misunderstood. But this post effectively demonstrates how courageous leaders can take action.

    Thanks for providing readers with lots to consider in how we might takes steps to improve.

    ~ Dennis

  4. One of my number one leadership strategies is to learn from smart people. THAT includes you. So thankful to count you among my many mentors that model courage effortlessly.

  5. How can we fix/change things if we don't know the problem/concern. Kudos to you and Samantha for allowing such feedback. I'd love the opportunity to give honest feedback. Maybe others will read this and feel compelled to do the same.

  6. Craig, thanks for showing us that it can be awesome and painful in the process, but to keep our eyes on the ultimate goal, to get better at what we do. I do wonder what you do with the outliers. Also, would you mind sharing the questions with us?

    Thank you for your leadership!