Month: July 2021

12 TIPS FOR NEW LEADERS TO BE SUCCESSFUL

Congratulations, you got your new leadership job. Now what? What should you do to maximize your success in your new position? You have been a successful teacher or entry-level leader who enjoyed a reputation of being friendly, supportive and collegial. Now, in a new leadership role, you are expected to deal effectively with new and/or old colleagues who may be resistant to your leadership, and parents who are dissatisfied with how their child has been treated in the past, and more senior administrators who assign you new and demanding responsibilities (student discipline, supervising resistant faculty members, revising a curriculum, lunchroom and bus supervision, parent complaints, etc.).

You may be a new principal who has successfully served as an assistant principal. As an assistant principal, you essentially had only one constituent to satisfy, and that was your principal. Now, you are faced with satisfying multiple constituencies, which include the faculty, the student body, parent groups (PTA, athletic booster, music boosters, and special education parents), Central Office administrators, and various unions.

Let’s start with the assumption that the failure of administrators is often rooted in the inability to (1) establish trusting relationships, (2) solve problems by developing and implementing workable solutions, (3) get the staff’s “buy in” to your decision-making process and leadership style, and (4) earn respect. Here are my suggestions as to how you can be a successful new leader:

  1. Conduct one-on-one get acquainted meetings with all faculty members and leaders of each constituent group. Ask, “What in your opinion are the greatest strengths and greatest needs of the school?”
  2. Make yourself visible and accessible to all members of the school-community. This means get out of your office and into the classrooms and corridors, and interact with attendees at school events.
  3. Demonstrate that you respect the school culture and the past practices of those who have preceded you.
  4. Seek out honest feedback and advice from staff. Listen, assess and act based on relevant feedback.
  5. Communicate realistic and fair expectations with clarity; provide opportunities for discussion.
  6. Recruit effective staff members whenever possible who will strengthen your team. This includes secretaries, custodians, and aides.
  7. Keep your personal, political and religious views to yourself.
  8. Limit socializing with the staff after school. Alcohol tends to loosen inhibitions and can lead to inappropriate behavior and speech. Alcohol and leaderships do not mix.
  9. Avoid offering your opinions or take sides in matters of district and/or school politics.
  10.  Do due diligence regarding important problems that you encounter by walking around them 360 degrees and examining the issues and their implications from every perspective before deciding.
  11.  Don’t be reluctant to ask for help or seek advice. Help can come from supervisors, experienced peers and outside coaches.
  12. Keep a reflective journal in order to process and reflect upon your thoughts and actions

THE 3 P’S OF JOB SEEKING: PREPARATION, PERSISTENCE, PATIENCE

“I’ve applied for over thirty leadership jobs over the last two years. I got five screening interviews; two of them were ‘courtesies’ due to contacts inside those districts. I moved on once to a second interview and was then cut. I need your help.” This is a typical email that I often receive. My advice to those of you who are frustrated in your job seeking, and to those who are considering or in the process of getting certified is to practice the 3P’s of job seeking—preparation, persistence, and patience.

Preparation

Financial advisors will tell you that preparing for a secure retirement should begin early in your career, and if not early, then now. Athletic coaches know that good preparation is the key to winning. Similarly, early and sound preparation is essential to your school leadership career, and that includes your education and where you attend graduate school. If you are considering enrolling in a school leadership graduate and/or certification program, you should think about attending the most prestigious university in your area. I understand that tuition costs and commuting long distances are serious concerns. However, a degree or a doctorate from a place like Columbia Teachers College, or even NYU or Fordham, will go a long way in making you a highly attractive candidate in the most desirable and best paying school districts.

Another major component is your accomplishments. Serving on a committee, chaperoning school dances, and participating in the PTA sponsored fashion show, although good things to do, should not be confused with significant professional accomplishments. Accomplishments may include: initiating a new course or program that addresses student needs; chairing an important committee, writing a report, and doing a Board and/or community presentation; winning a prestigious award or gaining community, professional, and/or student recognition; writing and being awarded a significant grant.

Of course, preparation must also include preparing an effective resume, and preparing for job interviews. A great resume requires meticulous crafting and editing. It must be tweaked to make it better and better. Giving a great interview means constructing and delivering a compelling narrative that goes beyond what’s on your resume and letting the interviewers know who you are. Seriously consider getting quality coaching and feedback from a knowledgeable and experienced coach in order to prepare a great resume and giving a winning interview. Just blundering through the search process is a formula for failure. Instead, you must design strategies that are tried and tested and will successfully work.

Persistence

Persistence means you stick with it; you must be determined and diligent. Over the course of my career in public education I could have wall papered every inch of wall space of my living room with letters of rejection from school districts in four different states. I was runner up in scores of jobs. It took me 24 years from the time I got my doctorate until I got my dream job. I jokingly say that I was an “overnight success”. It is terribly disappointing and demoralizing to repeatedly experience rejection. Nevertheless, if you are determined to achieve your career goal, you must be persistent in your belief and your actions. If you are not getting interviews, enhance your qualifications. Chalk up impressive experiences and accomplishments. Become a summer school or evening school principal. Volunteer for important and difficult assignments. Re-write your resume. Have a career coach review your resume and suggest changes. Once you get more interviews, reflect upon and diagnose why you came up short. Adjust your responses to often asked questions. Again, work with a career coach to hone your interviewing skills and strategize your answers.

Patience

Job seeking is not a 100-yard dash. It is usually a marathon. It requires patience and endurance. You must believe in yourself. Your mantra should be, “Sooner or later, my time will come.” When it does come, I predict it will come effortlessly.

Dr. Aronstein is a career coach who works one-on-one with leaders and aspiring leaders in their preparation of resumes and preparing for interviews. You can purchase his ebook: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B086HXY8MQ?ref_=k4w_oembed_agX9D63dSYiFsF&tag=kpembed-20&linkCode=kpd

Learn more about Dr. Aronstein by visiting his website: www.larryaronstein.com

WORDS AND PHRASES NEVER TO BE USED ON YOUR RESUME OR IN AN INTERVIEW

Here is a list of words and phrases you should never use on your resume or during an interview; why you shouldn’t use them; and what to say instead:

1. “UNEMPLOYED”—It makes you sound like a loser and nobody wants to hire a loser. Let potential employers figure out that you are “between jobs” and be prepared to explain what happened.

2. “HARDWORKING”—The word is over-used and therefore trite. Instead, provide accomplishments that document your work ethic and diligence and let the interviewer conclude that you’re hardworking.

3. “AMBITIOUS”—Making personality claims comes off as bragging. You want to project a modest image which is backed up by progressive accomplishments and activities.

4. “OBJECTIVE”—Stating your career objective at the top of your resume is superfluous. It is clear what position you are applying for. Stating an objective in flowery language only slows the reviewer down. He/she is probably speed reading through 100’s of resumes. Just leave it out.

5. “DEDICATED”—This is another over-used, stale personal claim. Describe your passions and your actions over a period of time to fulfill them.

6. “UNION”—Remember that unions often sit on the other side of the table pushing back on leaders’ decisions and actions. Leaders make personnel decisions and may not welcome people who are “union-friendly” on their team. Leave out any mention of unions.

7. “LIFE-LONG LEARNER”—Another trite expression. Your participation in professional development opportunities demonstrates your willingness to learn and grow. During the interview, ask about professional development opportunities and who would be mentoring you. That question implies that you want to grow and learn.

8. “ROCK STAR”—No one likes a braggart. You’re not Elvis, Justin Bieber, or Lady Gaga.

9. “DABBLED”—If it’s important enough to mention, then you know or done something significant . Who wants to hire a dabbler? Use strong verbs like led, created, directed.

10. “EXPERT”—Be careful what you claim. A skillful interviewer may probe or challenge your expertise. “What does the research say on the topic of…? What research and literature have you studied?” If you claim to speak a foreign language, don’t be surprised if an interviewer asks you a complex question in that language and asks that you respond in that language.

11. “A BIG FAN OF…”—Speak like a professional. I’m a big baseball fan, however I wouldn’t tell a group of professions that I was a big fan of differentiating instruction. I would describe how I go about differentiating.

12. “Like”—Using the words “like” or “you know” at the beginning, the middle, and the end of every sentence as a “filler” makes you sound juvenile and will hamper your professional image. Work to change that speech pattern.

These are just a few examples of words and phases to avoid. There are many others. I would also caution you about referencing anything related to politics and religion, or what might be perceived as controversial topics. Needless to say, never use any words even bordering on profanity. Everything you write and say as a candidate creates your narrative and your image. Choose your words carefully.