What are ways instructional leaders can promote a positive culture inside and outside of the classroom? There are many different things that come to mind right away when thinking about this question. Some of it seems like common sense. Positivity in a leader is crucial to high-performing work teams. In the book, The Truth About Leadership, one statistic shared in Chapter 10 was that high performers received a ratio of 5.61 positive statements to 1 negative while, medium performing received a ratio of 1.14 to 1. Looking at this stat is interesting. Also mentioned in the chapter was that “50% of professionals say that having a ‘bad boss’ would be the most important factor in a decision to leave their jobs” (140). So, what are ways leaders can promote a positive culture in school?
Here is my list -
- A leader who supports their followers shows they care on a daily basis. Supportive leaders are there for people they work with in both professional and personal settings. They can listen with empathy, and really hear the fears that their constituents might have, and validate their feelings in a caring and supportive manner, before looking to find solutions together.
- Leaders who create positive cultures do so in a way that celebrates all members on a staff. It should not feel forced, but should really allow for appreciation of work be shown. Like the book stated, it doesn’t have to be a grand gesture or prize, even little pieces of authentic appreciation can help moral.
- Having the approval of a leader is always a nice feeling to have. Positive leaders give approval to those who earn it. Not only seeing the highly innovative performers, but noticing those who are trying and improving and recognizing that builds a culture of safety and positivity.
- Being involved outside of school functions and creating a sense of community among staff really helps create a positive culture in school. Leading by example was one of the ten truths of leadership. Finding out the interests of constituents and values they hold will help leaders connect with them on a day to day basis at work.
A lot of the ideals of good leadership fits well into the classroom. Teaching students should bring out much of the same leaderships qualities you want to see. Having a growth mindset in class is something I want to see from all of my students. Understanding that they can improve and learn and grow as individuals into anyone they want to become is something that is important to me. This growth mindset can be modeled through my actions as their teacher. Going through professional development, sharing with my students that I too, have classes where I learn. As it is said in the book a few times, “great leaders are great learners.” This is important for students to know. Supporting a growth mindset means allowing for mistakes to be made, acknowledging them, but then allowing for time to fix and learn from them. Creating an inviting and safe atmosphere also builds the foundation for growth mindsets in students. Kids are not likely to put themselves out there if they think others will judge or ridicule their actions. Seeing everyone as equal and unique and celebrating that can, I believe, lead to growth mindsets.
Building both a positive culture and growth mindset will no doubt lead to innovation. All people, whether it's teacher or students, will do their best work when they truly believe their leaders are genuinely there for them and care their own unique successes.
Kouzes, James M., and Barry Z. Posner. "Truth Ten: Leadership is An Affair of the Heart." The Truth about Leadership: The No-fads, Heart-of-the-matter Facts You Need to Know. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass, 2010. 91-164. Print.