I will be in Dallas, Texas, for much of this week attending the ASDASA Conference, a large event for Adventist school administrators from around North America. I was asked to present a breakout session on Leading the Quality School, which I will be doing on Monday and Tuesday.
Leading a quality school is a complex task, all the more so when you throw religion into the mix, yet I will attempt to share The What, The Why, and The How of it during the brief time scheduled for the breakout.
It’s impossible to talk about a school or district incorporating choice theory without talking about lead management. If choice theory provides the foundation, lead management is about actually building the structure on that foundation. If choice theory is the target; lead management is the arrow. Lead management is choice theory in action.
Glasser talked about two leadership styles – lead management based on choice theory and the idea of internal control, while boss management is based on behaviorism and the idea of external control. Boss management is very different from lead management, although there is overlap between the two. Some assume that boss management is the exact opposite of lead management, but this is not true. The opposite of boss management is laissez faire, which is basically a hands-off leadership style approximating no management.
As a slide from the presentation conveys, both boss managers and lead managers want results based on high expectations. They differ on how they manage toward good results, but they both have high goals in mind. They also both want good relationships with the people with whom they work. It’s too easy to assume that boss managers are mean and don’t care about people, but I don’t believe that. I have known some boss managers with good hearts who do care about the people or students with whom they work. It’s very hard for a boss manager to maintain positive relationships, due to the nature of external control, but in their heart of hearts they want to get along with people.
Lead managers and boss managers differ in key areas, though, as the graphic below suggests.
Others role vs My role
Boss managers tend to be focused on the performance of others, what others are doing correctly or wrongly, and the external forces that need to be applied to improve their performance; while the lead manager recognizes that the only person he can control is himself; the lead manager sees that so much about management is about what is inside of him – the knowledge, the attitude, the extent to which his ego is involved.
Then he added, Son of man, let all my words sink into your own heart first. Listen to them carefully for yourself. Ezekiel 3:10
Individual-focused vs. System-focused
Boss managers believe that poor performance is an individual’s problem, probably caused by lack of skill, lack of effort, lack of commitment, or poor judgment. In their minds, the situation would be better if the individual took it more seriously or tried harder. A lead manager believes that poor performance, by an individual or otherwise, often reflects systemic flaws. In a lead manager’s mind, individuals perform better when needed support is built into the system.
Accountability vs. Solutions
When mistakes are made, boss managers hone in on who made the mistake and establish the level of blame that is appropriate. They might not be comfortable with the word blame here, but basically it’s about blame. Lead managers are more concerned with problem-solving and solutions than assigning blame. What can be done to fix this or make it better? is the focus.
Provides rewards vs. Provides support
The boss manager sees it as her/his responsibility to make subordinates achieve success through the strategic application of incentives and sanctions. Rewards feel better than punishments, but they both are on the manipulative side of the coin. Lead managers seek to learn from their colleagues what they need to do their job well and try to supply that need. Lead managers offer affirmations and celebrations, but not as a carrot to manipulate performance.
Evaluates vs. Mirrors
The boss manager conducts evaluations and shares her/his findings with subordinates. These evaluations reflect the boss manager’s view of the employee’s performance, often with four commendations for every recommendation. Rather than judging an employee’s performance, the lead manager’s goal is to facilitate the employee self-evaluating his own performance. The lead manager becomes a mirror to the employee, and through well-worded questions assists the employee as he reviews his own performance and sets goals for the future.
School leadership is about creating the conditions for students and teachers to be successful, and in the process to become the best version of themselves!
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