Posts Tagged ‘leadership teams’

Communication: speaking the same language as your team (Part 1)

September 3, 2012

Have you ever been in a situation, either as a team leader of team member, where you feel the person you’re speaking with just isn’t really listening? … They don’t get it … They can’t see what you’re trying to show them.

Or, do you often feel misunderstood by one particular member of your team? 

What may be happening is that they are hearing you, but the way they are responding seems to be changing the meaning of what you’re saying.

For example …

Sue: “James, I’m really keen to show you how I’ve organised this data in a way that’s easier to understand. It demonstrates clearly how we’ve achieved our targets in the last few months. I think you’ll notice how the colours I’ve used highlight each team member’s contribution.”

James: “Sounds useful. Tell me more.”

Sue: “If you look at this page, you’ll see each team member’s value added data, which I think will be helpful when looking at their next targets.”

James: “Listen, I really like the sound of it … I hear what you’re saying. It would be a good idea to tell the rest of the team what you’ve done at our next team meeting.”

At this point, Sue may be feeling a little frustrated! James wasn’t looking at all Sue’s hard work. He wanted her to tell him about it instead. 

This is a classic example of someone who is more visual talking to someone who is auditory. We all have our individual preferences for learning and remembering things, and we give this away by how we speak.

In the example above, Sue is using lots of visual language:

  • show you
  • demonstrates clearly
  • you’ll notice
  • colours
  • highlight
  • look
  • you’ll see

James on the other hand is using more auditory words and phrases:

  • sounds useful
  • tell me more
  • listen
  • like the sound of it
  • hear

You may not get as many examples as I’ve given in such a short dialogue – I’ve included lots to make the point.

Do you recognise any of the phrases above as ones you use on a regular basis?

Visual and auditory are just 2 of the main styles of learning. In a future blog I’ll continue this discussion by looking at a different one.

In the meantime, pay attention to the phrases and words others use to describe events / situations.

What would you say their preferred style of communication is?

(Photo credits: Master isolated images and FreeDigitalPhotos.net)

Maximising Relationships with … #1: Your Senior Leadership Team

April 23, 2012
  • How strong is your relationship with your SLT?
  • Could it be even better?

 

Successful leadership and management of a school (or other organisation/business) relies in part on a leadership team which is strong individually and collectively.

The size of the SLT will usually depend on the size of the school and how staffing is structured (and the budget!) I’ve worked with SLTs ranging in size from 1 (the Head of a small school) to a team of 8, in a larger city school. As with any team, the larger it is the greater the potential for a richness of ideas, strengths and experiences … as well as a greater risk of conflict and power struggles.

A range of factors contribute to an effective team, one of which is a positive and productive working relationship. Heads new to a post can come into a school with an already established SLT, which can create its own challenges.

To build and maintain effective relationships with the SLT, there are several things that I’ve found in development work with Heads…

1: Clear vision – shared with (or developed alongside) the SLT

It’s important that each member of the SLT knows how they contribute to the vision. Teaching staff can lose sight of the big picture (which the Head tends to hold), as they deal with the day-to-day tasks. This is why the vision needs to be revisited and reviewed on a regular basis.

2: Role clarity

It’s also important that each member of the SLT knows his/her role in the leadership and management of the school.

– Which parts of their role are leadership and which management? 

– Do their combined leadership roles (I’m including the Head here too) provide appropriate coverage of all development areas within the school or are there gaps?

– How do you know?

– Are tasks appropriately distributed and is there fair delegation?

Lack of role clarity can lead to staff losing focus and direction, resulting in feeling demotivated. Staff who are externally motivated will need more direction and feedback on how they are doing, otherwise relationships could break down.

3: Building rapport

Building rapport is easiest with people who are similar to ourselves; it’s a subconscious thing. There’s a saying: People like people like themselves. This is fine when choosing your friends but can be limiting when choosing staff to be part of a multi-skilled and dynamic team, where complementary expertise and experiences are key.

Having common values helps build rapport, as does speaking the same language. (A focus for a forthcoming blog!)

4. Maximising strengths

As a Head / leader, how well do you know your SLT’s individual strengths (and your own!)? Not just curriculum strengths or a wide range of experience; I would also include here leadership and emotional intelligence strengths (e.g. optimism, initiative, building bonds, conflict management).

This is not an exhaustive list – so what would you add to it? 

How do you maximise relationships with (and within) your team?

(Photo credit: renjith krishnan)