Leading with common sense and courage
Transformation is a big umbrella with multiple components attached to it. It is not just the managements’ job but involves all stakeholders, no one left behind is the single thought and focus.
The read to transformation is never an easy one. It requires single minded, acute, focus, grit, agility in actions and thoughts and the courage to brave the turbulence. I compare it to the journey in a ship where you check the requirement, fuel up and stock up, take the passengers on board and then the start of a journey with a destination in mind. As the captain, you chart the journey, check the direction using the compass and adjust the sails and speed to navigate the waters.
Each part you stop at becoming a point to add or delete or retain or continue, it is a journey, a bumpy journey but nevertheless an exciting, fruitful and productive journey.
Transformation is an umbrella term with multiple components attached to it. It is not just the managements’ job but involves all stakeholders, no one left behind is the single thought and focus. Each initiative needs a leader, the continuous school improvement leader. The Principal of the school can also be the leader of transformation if desired and deemed fit by the management.
A good suggestion is to appoint a person to lead it, as corporate companies call it CTO – Chief Transformation Officer. It is not to create another leadership structure or burden the organization but to have that one person (who should preferably be a consultant) to lead the initiative. A consultant could also be considered so that there are no emotions attached to the work that has been done so far or needs to be done rectified. Then starts the process of gathering data around the different pillars that make a school what it is. The six main pillars are 1) Teaching and Learning, 2) Student Voice and Choice, 3) Curriculum and its appropriateness, 4) Involvement of families as well as Community partnerships, 5) The appropriateness of the physical learning environment, and 6) The safety and security of the students.
Next comes defining matrices for measuring where one stands on those indicators and planning the next steps. These are all easy and doable measures. The key is to identify and define clearly the vision and the benchmarks that the management wants to achieve for each of the pillars.
The CTO (or whatever name/ title you choose to give to the person) is not a one-man army. She/ he is a leader or central point for that process. Yes, a person with leadership skills, a person with a vision and somebody humble focused and grounded who understand the reality.
The basic design model stays the same as all schools are built on similar pillars, but each has its own unique challenges. The challenges get compelled by lack of cohesive plan and the mindsets of the team. A closed mindset will get one nowhere, while a growth mindset leads to volumes of improvement. It is never just about the process but about the practice one follows in executing the process.
The imperative task that consumes maximum effort and energy is not about processes but working around culture and challenging mindsets which are closed to different perspectives. Capacity building is what leads to change being sustainable.
Transformation is a process of change and not everyone will see the need to do so or desire to bring about change. It becomes a part of the strategic plan for the leader to now understand and identify the key embracers of the need for transformation. Understanding that not everything will have to be replaced or changed is very important for the leader-embracing efficient existing practices and prioritizing the ones that need to be worked upon is the key to successful transformation.
Collaboration is the key element for the success of any initiative. Transforming organizations is not about doing a cleanup with a small select team but about building in sustainable practices that will last the lifetime of an organization and not the work span of an individual. There will be nay sayers, there will be resistance and there will be indifference along with pockets of energetic followers. Take the followers and believers along and let the naysayers just be. The positive results will speak for themselves and the naysayers will either join in willingly or be forced to join. Just dare to lead and not get bogged down by the limiting talks and unwillingness.
“The principal of the future has to be much more attuned to the big picture, and much more sophisticated at conceptual thinking, and transforming the organization through people and teams. If the goal is sustainable, change in the knowledge society, business and education leaders have increasingly more in common.
This convergence requires a new mind and action set for leading complex change.
Figure 1 depicts this framework. It consists of personal characteristics of energy/enthusiasm and hope, and fivecore components of leadership: moral purpose, understanding change, relationship building,knowledge creation and sharing and coherence making.” – Michael Fullan
As John P. Kotter says, “Leaders who successfully transform businesses do eight things right (and they do them in the right order).”
Organizations and I include this term for schools to, do take up transformation challenges and they remake themselves very successfully. However, these attempts fail once the leader leaves and the transformation fails.
“After reading up on the common reason for their failure, the most general lesson to be learned from the more successful cases is that the change process goes through a series of phases that, in total, usually require a considerable length of time. Skipping steps creates only the illusion of speed and never produces a satisfying result. A second very general lesson is that critical mistakes in any of the phases can have a devastating impact, slowing momentum and negating hard-won gains. Perhaps because we have relatively little experience in renewing organizations, even very capable people often make at least one big error.” – Kotter
Follow the process diligently, do midterm checks and use the compass to set the path again if the waters get too turbulent but do not let go of the dream to ensure that good education is the right of all children and imparting it is the duty of every school.
Understanding that not everything will have to be replaced or changed is very important for the leader-embracing efficient existing practices and prioritizing the ones that need to be worked upon is the key to successful transformation.
The positive results will speak for themselves and the naysayers will either join in willingly or be forced to join. Just dare to lead and not get bogged down by the limiting talks and unwillingness.
A passionate and progressive educator with over 22 years of experience, NamritaRathee leads the Primary School at Khaitan Public School, Sahibabad.As a member of the Senior Leadership Team, Rathee contributes towards policy changes. Being the Lead Coach for the I-LEAD program at Khaitan Public School, she has contributed in bringing about significant changes in the SEL environment. She sees a leader in each member of the KPS community and believes that simplicity in thoughts and action and the space to dream are the necessary ingredients to nurture flourishing minds.
She holds a prestigious Montessori degree from AMI, Netherlands, an NTT and BEd degree from India and an Early Childhood Educator Diploma from British Columbia. She is a qualified TESOL Master Trainer, an Instructional Leader, a CIE educator and a Design Thinking Practitioner.