Effective principals and other school leaders understand the use of power, especially personal leadership power. Personalized leadership is an adaptation of several types of power: role power, expertise power, and personal power. It is a variation of the leadership trinity: getting to know you people, talking about performance, and leading for results. In each of the three, there is an opportunity for skillful, thoughtful leaders to personalize relationships and still get things done. After all, the definition of power is the ability to get things done. This PEP article explores ways that leaders in relatively small organizations, as well as those in larger ones, can more effectively achieve the results they desire by personalizing both power and leadership.
Personalized leadership has attention to the "bottom line" and results. It is all about achieving the mission and objectives of the school and system. Some principals are uncomfortable with the personalized approach fearing that others will interpret this as a sign of weakness. What they may fail to understand is that establishing both bonds and boundaries is part of the process, and that through effectively utilizing the leadership trinity, personalization is already embedded in the process. Let's look into this further.
The first part of the leadership trinity, getting to know your people, relies on using one-on-one meetings to both establish a relationship and to communicate directly. More specifically, a principal has an opportunity to both listen and learn, as well as to discuss concerns, interests, and needs. In this process, there is an opportunity to establish a professional relationship based upon mutual trust. Trust is at the heart of all relationships both personal and professional. Without it the effective leadership and relationships necessary to achieve the vision and mission of the school will fail, or at least not be optimized.
In an effective one-on-one meeting a staff member can share honestly and openly the issues being faced in their role and work. Problems can be shared without the risk of criticism. It is also an opportunity for a leader to be able to offer some feedback if it is wanted at the time, or at some point in the future. This feedback should not be focusing upon past mistakes, if they occurred. Rather, offer it as a way to move forward, understanding problems with a view towards correcting errors, learning from mistakes, addressing blind spots, and focusing on continuous improvement. In this personalized way, a principal can utilize "getting to know your people" in ways that allow a staff member to not just feel but to know that there is understanding and support. It allows one to skillfully avoid making demands based upon a principal’s formal role power. Use that power sparingly.
Some principals and other educational leaders feel that once they are in a leadership position that they are not only supposed to have all the answers, but to act in ways that project superior knowledge about all of the factors that enter into quality performance. This could not be further from the truth. In reality, effective leaders understand that through the one-on-ones there is an opportunity to learn about the issues and factors connected to performance. It is an opportunity to ask questions about decisions being made and to become smarter and more aware in the process. It is an opportunity to get feedback from a person whom is trusted to actually carry out the role and mission one was hired to do. With personalized leadership there is an opportunity to reinforce the trust needed to actually get things done.
Dr. Mike Dietz, Dir. Innovation and Global Outreach
262-365-3947 @mikedietz92 firstname.lastname@example.org