As you run to the finish line, remember what your job is, to affirm, cheer on, and motivate your team in a positive manner to make it over the finish line together. At this point, there are many people that maybe you don’t even want to support and cheer on, but it is what we must do as leaders with a smile and positive attitude!
As a teacher, I was much better at giving affirmations and positive praise in the morning session and as the day wore on and I got tired, not as good at it in the afternoon. Behavior changed from morning to afternoon for the worse. So I made a grand effort to give just as many positive affirmations in the afternoon as I did in the morning. Sure enough, behavior improved and although it meant more effort for me, I wasn’t as tired, because I didn’t have to deal with so many behavior interruptions.
Guess what? The same holds true for us as principal leaders! At the end of the year, we are worn down and our bag of affirmation tricks is waning! But, now is the time to kick it into gear! Finish strong with an attitude of gratitude! Or as Todd Whitaker would tell us, “Raise the Praise! Minimize the Criticize!”
The focus on accountability in education has brought forth more opportunities for us to look for what is wrong, instead of what is right. What we need to do is turn that around and spend more time thinking about all of the great things happening at our schools, no matter how small.
Kim Cameron in his book Positive Leadership Strategies for Extraordinary Performance, shares several principles of leadership that focus on an attitude of gratitude! His positive leadership assessment includes these check offs:
How frequently do you?
· Express gratitude to multiple employees each day?
· Make gratitude visits and the distribution of gratitude notes a daily practice?
· Provide more feedback to individuals about their strengths rather than their weaknesses?
· Spend more time with your strongest performers than with your weakest performers?
· Communicate a ratio of approximately five positive messages for every negative message to those with whom you interact?
· Consistently distribute notes or cards to your employees complimenting their performance?
Okay, I am not trying to make you feel guilty! Kim is a business professor at the University of Michigan and we know that most business managers have on average about seven reports.(Those they are directly responsible for to evaluate and manage) We have on average at least twenty or more! I had 80 at my school! Plus, if you talk to business people, they will tell you that they have departments for everything principals are expected to manage and lead! My point is to change your thinking, what if we look around our schools with our heads up and find all of the great things that are going on and happening? What if we spent a few minutes each day with an attitude of gratitude and thought about who needed an affirmation or two? Could it spread? Would others join in and create a movement?
Adrian Gostnick in his book, The Carrot Principle: How the Best Managers Use Recognition to Engage Their People, Retain Talent, and Accelerate Performance reports that only 1 out of 5 employees in business have received a public thank you from their manager. Less than half of workers have received ONE personal thank you note or message from a manager. It seems like business and education has been lacking in its focus on affirming, building, influencing, and moving people! Perhaps we need to join the positive leadership movement and turn that around! Some of you have a week or more left of school! Lift your head up! Look around! What haven’t you noticed lately that needs to be affirmed? Take a moment each day to just think positively and make a list of those who need a little gratitude. And while you are at it, put yourself on the list! You have worked hard this year and deserve a pat on the back yourself. Start now! Get up from your computer and take a gratitude walk! Give an affirmation or two! Find out what happens! Spread the movement of RAA! Random acts of affirmation! Until we meet again . . . Happy trails to you!