Last Edition of New Superintendent Update for FY19
This will be the last edition for this school year. If you would like to continue to be on the email list for the 2019-20 school year, please email my assistant Melissa at firstname.lastname@example.org to be put on the "veterans" list. I hope you have found some worth in these updates, and we wish you continued success in your journey as a school superintendent.
What Got You Here Won't Get You There
Recently I was thinking about the skills it takes to be an effective superintendent. Most new superintendents have risen through the ranks as teachers, building level administrators and some as district level administrators. In each of these previous positions the skills required to perform the tasks were complex and varied. The same is true for the superintendency except for the fact that the "buck stops" at your desk.
Just what does this mean? It means you have to be a visionary and reflect on the future and how to accomplish difficult tasks in a meaningful complex manner. The biggest difference is you have a board of education to report to. These board members are a reflection of your community and bring a variety of skill sets to the table. As you continue on your leadership journey, I recommend that you listen very closely to what board members are saying and, in some cases, what they are not saying.
Remember that you are not the owner of the school district. You are the chief executive officer, and the owners are the residents of the community. In a highly functional school district, you would be carrying out the directives of the board of education to maximize the educational opportunities for the students. Sometimes superintendents get confused and think they are the only holders of good ideas and great initiatives. The board of education, community members, staff members and others also have good ideas and great initiatives, and we need to make sure we are listening to these players.
I often think about the Covey Indian stick metaphor when I think about my own listening skills. The Indian stick metaphor states that in a conversation, the person doing the talking holds the Indian stick and does not give it to the listener until the listener tells the speaker what they said to the speaker's satisfaction. This means as a listener we must truly listen. Successful superintendents truly listen to their constituents.
Tip of the Week
I turned 69 this week. This caused me to reflect on my health, family and work. Often people tell me I look younger than my age. While this is the perception of the person speaking, I internalize these comments and agree with the perception. I think the reasons I look younger than 69 are both genetic and also because I have been a lifelong exerciser. When thinking of my family, I first think about our grandchildren. It is very satisfying to watch these grandchildren grow up and know they are being raised correctly by their parents and they will be prepared for the world that awaits them. As far as work is concerned, I still like to work and feel blessed to work for IASA and to share my experiences and knowledge with administrators and educators newer to the profession. I have to admit I do get upset when I hear veteran educators say they only have X number of board meetings left before retirement, or some other indicator that they cannot wait to get out of education. I believe individuals should continue sprinting toward the last day they will work and not be crawling toward that day. I hope your careers are such that you will enjoy and work hard every last day of educational career.