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Five Disciplines of PLC Leaders, The

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Chapter 1: The Discipline of Vision and Values

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Every serious student of the subject asserts that leaders must have the capacity to envision an uplifting and ennobling image of the future and to enlist others in a common purpose. That’s the good news. Here’s the bad news. Today’s leaders stink at it.

—James Kouzes and Barry Posner

The concept of vision often feels vague and out of reach. Yet vision is and will be one of the most potent change weapons in your leadership life. Vision, when led extremely well, becomes the driver of change for your district, school, or program area. There are dozens of definitions of vision. My only caution is to be clear about the difference between mission and vision. Simply defined, mission is why your job and the school organization exist—your fundamental purpose. You can usually state the mission in one short sentence. For example, I subscribe to the PLC mission that is summed up in the simple mantra “Success for every student.” Your mission—your reason for why the school or district exists—cannot be more complicated than for all adults to educate as a PLC in order to ensure the social, emotional, and academic success of every child.

 

Chapter 2: The Discipline of Accountability and Celebration

ePub

I’ve come to see institutional design like a staged disease: harder to detect but easier to cure in the early stages, easier to detect but harder to cure in the later stages. An institution can look strong on the outside but already be sick on the inside, dangerously on the cusp of a precipitous fall.

—Jim Collins

As of this book’s writing, there were 53,963 books on leaders and 3,087 books on school leaders at Amazon.com. Writing about the unique aspects of school leadership—especially the leadership of a shared vision by all stakeholders—has significantly fewer voices in the educational community. On the subject of vision leadership, there were 1,398 books on vision development and 131 books on vision implementation. There is a reason there are ten times as many books on vision creation and development as there are on vision action and implementation. It is just so hard to turn vision into realized action.

Through the leadership discipline of accountability and celebration, it is possible to create a culture in which all adults engage in the difficult work of turning the school’s vision into implemented action. And to master this discipline requires deep management and leadership skills in harmony with one another. This discipline requires effective monitoring of action—management. It also requires brokering of action, change, and shifts to meet the vision—leadership. You must manage and lead others toward the vision.

 

Chapter 3: The Discipline of Service and Sharing

ePub

The servant leader is servant first . . . it begins with the natural feeling that one wants to serve, to serve first. Then conscious choice brings one to aspire to lead. . . . The difference manifests itself in the care taken by the servant—first to make sure that other people’s highest priority needs are being served. The best test, and the most difficult to administer, is: Do those served grow as persons? Do they, while being served, become healthier, wiser, freer, more autonomous, more likely themselves to become servants? And, what is the effect on the least privileged in society: Will they benefit or, at least, not be further deprived?

—Robert Greenleaf

PLC leadership is as much about investing time and energy in your own growth as in the growth of those in your sphere of influence. In your leadership role, you foster a culture in which all individuals (yourself included), working in highly collaborative teams, grow in their ability to make effective contributions to the well-being of the school. A distinctive aspect of effective PLC leaders is that they are adept at adult capacity development—among all adults in their sphere of influence, continuously.

 

Chapter 4: The Discipline of Reflection and Balance

ePub

“A slow sort of country,” said the Queen. “Now, here, you see, it takes all the running you can do, to stay in the same place. If you want to get somewhere else, you must run at least twice as fast as that!”

—Lewis Carroll

To become a fully engaged PLC leader, one who does not succumb to the intense and often urgent pace and expectations of the position, requires personal training in the discipline of reflection and balance. This means you fully engage at work, and you intentionally disengage in order to rest and renew. You have developed a sense and clear understanding of how to balance expenditure of your energy with time for renewing your energy. You understand that failure to do so will lead to the ultimate downside of leadership: negative energy and negative relationships producing constant and sustained overload in your work-related tasks. That is not the desired path of a PLC leader, and you don’t arrive there suddenly. An “everything is urgent” pace facilitates a drift toward negative energy. Extraordinary PLC leaders learn how to check for and then stop the drift.

 

Chapter 5: The Discipline of Inspiration and Influence

ePub

The first responsibility of a leader is to define reality. The last is to say thank you. In between the two, the leader must become a servant.

—Max De Pree

In the end, all I really wanted to say—all I really could say—was thank you. It would be my fifteenth and final message as superintendent to the faculty and staff at Stevenson High School District 125. After twenty-one years at Stevenson and thirty-five years of teaching and leading, I was leaving a district I had grown to love, to begin a new era of teaching, leading, and learning with others. I had written and rewritten this final message five times. And it felt so final. So surreal. Twenty-one times in a row, I had come back each August to start a new school year at Stevenson. But I would not be back for a twenty-second time. This was it—my final moment to share my thoughts, feelings, words, and actions with a faculty and staff that I loved very much. The auditorium was filled with a lot of school heroes whom I respected and admired.

 

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