One chapter a day. That has been the challenge for this book and nineteen others. Many times it is easy, the focus is strong, and sometimes the chapter is like an eight-course meal, tough to get through. Throughout these books, we have started some processes and traditions. OneNote is used to create notes, most of which we type out particular phrases and highlights that influence and interest us. We also create what we call "quotures," the phrase(s) that stood out to us from each chapter. Then we tweet it sharing our experience with the greater community on our journey through each book.
This particular book is one of four books introduced to us by our new Superintendent, Dr. Cheryl Logan. Each book built upon the fundamentals of leadership, highlighting the importance of relationship building, but each being unique in their approach.
In Chapter 3, Kim outlined superstars and rock stars. Immediately, I knew where I fit personally. If a challenge isn't there, I get bored. It has been a perspective that I have had for quite some time, and contributes to my learning growth. I have personal procedures and routines down and had to when we moved up to Omaha:
"Be relentlessly insistent on bringing your fullest and best self to work—and taking it back home again."
Work/Life balance for me is not realistic. It doesn't fit my personality or work ethic. Work-life integration as outlined in this book, more represents how I personally have approached it. This does present some challenges to the people that I lead, and will describe further below.
As a Leader
The last couple of books we have read have really emphasized the power of relationships in leadership. I love this quote from Jim Knight's Better Conversations book:
Many times, especially in the technology environment of constant change, end users believe something is being done to them. Being a technology leader, I observe this from time to time. As we subscribe our collaboration services to cloud environments such as Microsoft, Google, etc., we relinquish some of that authority of change to whatever platform you utilize. Doesn't seem too empathetic, does it? It is so essential as leaders, no matter what industry you are in, to introduce empathy into your daily activity. It isn't easy. A couple of weeks ago right in the beginning of our ERP go-live, I decided to go to a location where a significant process change that would affect hundreds of users in that building, specifically first thing in the morning. I spent two hours each day assisting those users first hand, listening to them, and understanding their frustration through that change. I needed to do that to know where they were coming from. It helped me to explain to our project team more accurately and with more emphasis on where we needed to focus and to care about the effect of the change. Kim talks about caring quite a bit through the book is characterized by this quoture by Eileen with great clarity:
The whole IMS team that I get the opportunity to lead is amazing. We do such great work. Probably one of my favorite memories just happened this week. At our principal's meeting, heavy agenda items were delivered through the meeting, but behind the scenes, our work was happening. The whole meeting agenda, presentations, etc. were being handled in Microsoft Teams for the first time, and incredible data dashboards were being shown the last agenda. We were behind the scenes of all of it. As a department, I couldn't be happier with our progress. We have an incredible staff, and their effort shows as it is weaved throughout everything we do as a district. Kim says it right in Chapter 1:
An interactive look at our technology progress from the video reflection
Kimball Scott had a special section in "Radical Candor" for "How to Use this Book" and explained that it provided a step-by-step approach for building Radically Candid relationships with your direct reports. I don't have any direct reports. My view going into this book will be very different from Rob's. I looked back on my life for a time that I had direct reports as a boss and other than a random management role at McDonald's in high school and a summer camp manager role in college, I had no experience as a boss. Scott shared in the book that your key responsibility as a boss is: to guide your team to achieve results. When I was part way through the book, I realized many of the strategies she provided aligned to my role as a teacher with my direct reports being my students. I couldn't hire nor fire them, but there are a number of similarities to what she suggests to get someone to perform at their best. Specifically she shared strategies for building relationships to get to know each direct report personally. To find out what motivates them. She suggested having one-on-one conversations about their lives to see where big life changes occurred as that was a window into what motivates them. As you learn more about them, you can do goal setting with them and provide feedback. These are all strategies a classroom teacher employs when working with students to perform. The skills gained as a teacher does not guarantee the aptitude to be an effective boss, but it does give a level of experience that can translate.
Below is an excerpt from Chapter 3:
To keep a team cohesive, you need both rock stars and superstars, she explained.
Rock stars are solid as a rock.
Superstars, on the other hand, need to be challenged and given new opportunities to grow constantly.
This statement really made me explore my role on our instructional technology training team. I shifted back and forth on if I would be a "rockstar" or a "superstar". There is great value in both on a team. I know that I like to be challenged and given new opportunities to grow, but I also know I'm solid on my focus to stay on our team. I'm not looking for opportunities outside of it yet in the short term 3-5 or even 10 years. When I look further, I wonder if I would like an opportunity to grow beyond and serve in a role with direct reports? She did state, "Not every superstar wants to manage." This year I was accepted into a leadership cohort in our district called LAUNCH that provides opportunities to learn skills needed for a role in administration. I felt this book was a good first tiptoe into that world. It gave practical examples, allowed me to look at what the role of a boss entails, and assured me that no matter how hard or lonely it may feel, it can also be greatly rewarding. I'm not sure where I will land in the future, but for now I will stay curious and seek growth.
From every book we have had a chance to read, it has created a deep space of reflection. I look for ways it connects to my past, current, and future life. I notice little nuggets of each book guiding how I handle situations. In the video below, I share a story of two scenarios that the strategies in Radical Candor helped me through this week. Specifically how Kimball Scott explains being "radically candid":
"Radical Candor™ is the ability to Challenge Directly and show you Care Personally at the same time. Radical Candor will help you and all the people you work with do the best work of your lives and build the best relationships of your career."
Relationships are core to the learning process and are woven into every classroom in Omaha Public Schools. It is no different in the workplace. This book provides excellent insight into the power of that engagement and what steps you can take as a leader or any other position you encompass. The best part of this book is the experience Kim Scott brings to the table, her accomplishments and what she sees as her challenges. A great read for anyone, in any position.
These posts are personal. They are not reflective of the Omaha Public Schools District.