Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Leadership breeds competition

Staff in an education environment have little reason to be competitive. There is little opportunity for advancement, extra work brings no monetary reward or toil and the more done, the more is expected.

There is a form of anti competition. Those that do succeed are compared to other successes and compared using the strengths of each. The perceived lesser of the two is denigrated and the greater of them is tall poppied.

I call teaching the pirahna occupation because it feeds on itself. It never seems to gain momentum to do the great things it has the promise to do. I fault here the leadership models it creates. Teachers are not great managers, managers are not great administrators, administrators are not great businessmen. Put this together and you get very average in most cases - especially when there is an unwillingness to learn new skills.

Leadership in a school environment requires a vision of the big picture and then a plan to enact the vision. Without a plan, progress cannot be measured and people can't be held responsible. Circuit breakers need to be kept in place to ensure that senior management is not restricting access to information, typically to hide inefficiency and incompetency in leading repair and refinement of the teaching model.

It's not rocket science, but it's not easy to overcome organisational inertia and friction either. Gaining momentum takes time and needs ongoing breaking of ground to keep going. Finding those willing to break ground for little reward is difficult, luckily there are still vocational teachers in the system - seeking stability and job satisfaction over monetary reward.

Thankfully when these people lead, others must follow or look lazy and incompetent. Loss of face is what pushes education forward more than PD or organisational goals. This is wrong but without structural changes, it's the main process for improvement. I don't think I have the answers, but I feel I am starting to ask the right questions.

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