Monday, November 21, 2011

Finding Grace in the Workplace and at Home!

What if all leaders started each day asking themselves, “In every interaction today, considering all the people I interact with, what one thing can I do to make them better?”   (K&P, 2006)

One of my favorite leadership books is James Kouzes’ and Barry Posners’ 2006 book A Leader’s Legacy. Although not an educational leadership book, these gifted authors present a powerful and motivational message about your leadership life – its significance, its impact, its aspiration and its courage. You can click on the icon to find out more about the book.

 It is their quote listed at the start of this blog, that inspired me to write about Leadership Discipline number Three in my Five Disciplines leadership book: The leadership discipline of getting better at service and sharing. You know, becoming more relationally intelligent in your work and home life. Recently I referred to this as “Plusing” as you can see from the powerpoint graphic below. What are you doing to make the people around you (colleagues, students, parents, and community members) better? And who is in your life that is spending time making you better? Does he or she know that it is part of their job to do so?

As we approach Thanksgiving, I keep thinking we could all use more grace in the workplace and absolutely more grace at home. The job is just too hard without it. And our families are too important to ignore it. Have you ever had someone in your work or personal life that just did not exhibit much grace? You know, a perfectionist that had almost no tolerance for human error or mistakes or perhaps exhibited tolerance but not much compassion for how to deliver the message of accountability?

Your relationships with all that are in your North –South - East and West spheres (and PLC’s are filled with a lot of E-W impact) are very personal in that your words, actions, and inactions impact them – one way or the other. Are your words, actions and inactions adding to my value as a human being – are you “plusing” my world and making me better at what I do and whom I am? 

Your journey for development in the leadership discipline of service and sharing or “plusing", begins by knowing extremely well what you need to be firm and fair about, but more importantly, how to do so every day with grace and understanding. 

The people we work with and count on are also human, and despite their best intentions, they don’t always do what they say they will do.  We need to give them the same opportunities we afford ourselves to try and fail and try again. We need to give them the chance to be the best they can be, even to be better than they thought they could be. We need to support them in their growth and help them to recognize that the journey is not about perfection but about becoming fully human. (K&P, 2006).

We could all use a bit more grace these days. We could all use more thanks giving. So, as you approach Thanksgiving this week, and you take some well-deserved time away from the stress of your work and your commitments, I hope you will take a moment to reflect: Who do I need to “plus” at work or at home next week? Who do I need to thank for their time and effort in “plusing” me or in “plusing” so many of our students and colleagues?

Isn’t that what the truly great leaders do?  Don’t they touch us this way, making us say to ourselves:  “I want to be in this relationship with you because being in this relationship brings out the best in me and makes me want to be and do all that I am capable of.  You see greatness in me that I don’t even realize.  And you care for me even when I am not at my best.” (K&P, 2006). 

How can I exhibit more grace in the workplace for the remainder of the 2011-2012 school year? This is a great question. And your response begins by recognizing the need for more grace from everyone in the workplace – and helping him or her move toward it. Ask those that are closest to you. They will let you know about your relational intelligence, as you open your leadership mind and heart to the Thanks Giving season. 

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