August 21, 2020
Aspiring and Inspiring a Shared Vision
Each EmpowerED 3.2.1 features a brief summary of my musings about and learning from multiple disciplines as they apply to leadership in education.
My favorite resource to use when teaching leadership is The Leadership Challenge by Jim Kouzes and Barry Posner. The real-life stories are relatable; the tips are useful and insightful; and the practices taught align to any leadership role. This EmpowerED 3.2.1 takes leadership practice two and deconstructs its components and supports them with resources from other industries, especially education.
3 Big Ideas
- Envision the Future. According to Leadership Worth Following’s website, “Effective leaders harness the skills and passions of their teams for maximum impact today and for the future.” Seeing the future as filled exciting and ennobling possibilities helps others see the same future. We talk about future trends that will influence how our work gets done. We can describe a compelling image of what the future could be like. We appeal to others to share an exciting dream of the future. We should vividly paint the big picture of what we aspire to accomplish. We speak with genuine conviction about the higher meaning and purpose of our work. Leadership Worth Following also suggests “A Dozen Ways to Envision the Future.”
- Enlist Others. Appealing to the shared hopes, dreams, and aspirations of others can inspire a shared vision. If people feel part of the change and can help steer it, they are more likely to invest energy and enthusiasm. The mission is the “what and how” and the vision is the “why.” Show others how their long-term interests can be realized by enlisting in a common vision. For education leaders this is a way to build teacher leaders. First, know your teachers and their aspirations. Then, find ways to support their accomplishment of them. Here are some resources to move your needle on building teacher leaders and enlisting others.
- Learning Forward’s Systematic Approach to Elevating Teacher Leadership is a transformation of the way educators work within schools every day to strengthen culture and professional practices and enhance professional learning opportunities leading to student success. (Killion, J., Harrison, C., Colton, A., Bryan, C., Delehant, A., & Cooke, D. (2016). A systemic approach to elevating teacher leadership. Oxford, OH: Learning Forward.)
- SEDL’s Leading from the Classroom is filled with nuggets of wisdom to help guide your development of a teacher as leaders model.
- Engage Authentically. Leaders steer by their dreams and look forward. They have a sense of purpose and a desire to change the way things are. Their clear vision of the future pulls them forward.
Leaders know that cannot command commitment, only inspire it. They learn about their team’s dreams, hopes, and aspirations and forge unity of purpose by showing how the dream is for the common good.
Consider these four timely tips from Bill Mugavin wrote about in a Flashpoint Leadership Consulting blog post titled “4 Leadership Tips to Inspire a Shared Vision When Leading Virtually” to help inspire vision and engage authentically.
- Like many others, you may have shifted to working from home, or virtually. Schedule time for yourself to think about the past and the present and how both inform the future you hope to see for your organization.
- On your next 1:1 or online meeting, ask others about their aspirations and goals for the future and how they fit into the greater organizational picture. How has that changed for them since going virtual? (Or perhaps a family member or child is now working virtually, but they are an essential or in-person team member.)
- Show others how a shared vision for the team can help them achieve their long-term aspirations.
- Regularly check in and speak with others about progress toward the team’s vision of the future.
The only thing worse than being blind is having sight but no vision.”
“Where there is no vision, there is no hope.”
– George Washington Carver
Can you and will you help your constituents think about their visions for the future by asking about their hopes, dreams, and aspirations and listening to what they say?
About the Author: Marcia Baldanza is also the author of Professional Practices, a Just ASK Senior Consultant. and adjunct professor at Virginia Tech. Until recently she worked for the School District of Palm Beach County, Florida, where she was an Area Director for School Reform and Accountability; prior to that she was Director of Federal and State Programs.