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Team Leaders Shouldn’t Be Picked Because They Are School Fonts

Schools are striving to get more sophisticated with their communication and collaboration teams.

This is an innovative initiative and one that I advocate strongly, however the flaw in the system is choosing Team Leaders based on length of service in the school. Let’s call them School Fonts. They know the how’s and why’s of the school. They have archival knowledge of the school and quote periods of time by referring to when persons were on staff.

“Yes, that rule came in during the Principal Skinner era. He is the one that mandated all students eat in the undercover area.” At first it seems like a good idea to have a School Font lead the team. After all, they can answer every member’s problem.

But this is not the job of a Team Leader. It is not to answer or find solutions for members, but to empower and support growth in members so they too can one day be a School Font.

The Team Leader should be an Empowering Leader.

“Empowering leaders share power with their subordinates, giving them decision-making authority. They also express confidence in employees' abilities to perform their jobs autonomously.” (Spreitzer 1995)

The Empowered Leader works with their team to be greater than the sum of all parts.

They have three important traits.

  1. Courage

  2. Curiosity

  3. Conviction

1. The courage to ask the questions that challenge team members accountability. The courage to move beyond being a teacher and rise to being a leader. The courage to know that life starts when uncomfortable begins.

2. Curiosity is the ability for a leader to ask questions for understanding instead of creating direct confrontation due to personal assumptions.

“Seek to understand so you may be understood” Dr Stephen Covey.

Understanding your team members' barriers to task completion allows the leader to support and empower the member to grow into their strengths.

3. Conviction is the foundation of an Empowered Leader. This is like their super power. They are ambassadors for the school’s vision, business plan and purpose. Their conversations are referenced to the documented agreed direction.

Which brings us back to whether the best Team Leader should be School Font. No. The best Team Leader is one who displays the traits or desire to learn the traits of an Empowered Leader. They do not have all the curriculum knowledge, community contacts or the archives of the school. What they have is a passion to lead their team, empower their team and support their team to be the best version of themselves more often, for the benefit of the students.

At a school I work with I have seen this formula in action. We chose a 3-year experienced teacher, new to the school to lead the Year 5/6 Phase Team. He displayed enthusiasm to learn and was committed to vision and comfortable with his conviction.

Courage and curiosity was coached during our empowered Leadership sessions and his growth has been acknowledged by School Font his Phase Team who at first were defiant with the posting. The proof is in the pudding with the change in his language and articulation of his team meeting progress.

Phase Teams, Year Groups, Department Teams, Committee Groups are only as successful as the Team Leader. So choose an Empowered Leader over a School Font.

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