Posts Tagged ‘strengths’

What’s the Team Vision?

February 19, 2013

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It’s quite commonplace for a school or organisation to have a vision, and previous blog posts have discussed why this is useful and how you might go about creating and implementing one.

But what about the teams within the school? The Key Stage teams, for example. What is their vision – if, in fact, they have one?

Personally, I see no reason why teams within a school shouldn’t have their own vision, provided it supports the school’s overall vision.

Here’s an exercise that you can do with your team to develop the team vision.

Developing the smaller team vision

  • Split into groups of 3 or 4
  • Ask them the question: “What do you want our team to achieve by the end of this term / school year?”
  • Alternatively, ask: “What do we want the children in our team to have achieved by the end of this term?”
  • Tell each group to prepare a news report that will outline the team’s success at the end of the given time scale.
  • Encourage them to be creative and think wider than they’ve done previously
  • Remind them it’s not just about numbers/results!!
  • Encourage them to draw on team members’ strengths and aspirations when considering what can be achieved

Share and compare the news reports. This can prove quite interesting, as you could get lots of different reports! But what’s most useful is that ideas & strengths will come from it that were previously untapped or unknown.

This then opens up the discussion within the team about what your vision could be. At this point, you may decide to share the whole school vision and see how the team vision could support it.

I’ve had some interesting outcomes when doing this exercise with teams, as well as a lot of fun! It’s a great collaborative exercise to bring teams together, as well as build relationships with new teams.

If you try this – I’d love to hear how it went!

Thinking of developing your school teams?

Call me to find out more and discuss your options

What’s your Personal Best?

September 17, 2012

Just over a week ago the closing ceremony for the Paralympics drew to a close what’s been an amazing run of success stories for athletes this summer from across the globe – both from the Olympics and the Paralympics.

Many world records were broken and many personal bests were achieved.

But you don’t have to be an athlete to achieve a Personal Best!

It could be argued that many of the 70,000 volunteers and Games Makers, who helped make both Olympics such a success, achieved ‘personal bests’ in the services they provided, such as the example of greater confidence in the previous link.

Personal bests can be achieved in a whole range of areas …

What’s the best conversation you’ve had with a colleague or friend?

What’s the best lesson you’ve taught or best bit of 1-1 tuition you’ve done?

What’s the best conference you’ve organised or meeting you’ve ever run?

What’s the best bit of mentoring or coaching you’ve done?

I’m sure you can think of other areas where you can recall your personal best.

So, why were they your best moments? How do you know – what’s your evidence?

One Head teacher I’ve worked with identified the following elements of a successful meeting with her SLT:

  • knowing what was to be achieved from the meeting
  • clarity and understanding of issues from all
  • enabling and facilitating everyone to have a voice
  • encouraging creativity
  • ensuring conclusions and next steps are identified by all (taking ownership)
  • identifying clear strategies for communication of outcomes to all staff

What would your’s be? 

Once you’ve considered personal bests in a range of areas, are there common strengths underlying each one? How can you replicate these common skills in other areas to achieve more personal bests?

The nature of personal bests mean that there’s always the potential to beat them, either by changing some equipment you are using or by changing / tweaking your actions.

What personal best will you achieve this week?

Images: 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)

Love what you do #3: Maximise your strengths

February 10, 2012

I’ve always found that making the most of what I’m good at ensures I enjoy my job more. Knowing what I’m good at comes from different areas:

– I get feedback from others when I coach or train them

– I feel it; I come away feeling on a high; I have that sense of self-satisfaction that comes from just knowing I’ve done a good job

– I can measure the results against success criteria I’ve set myself (or others have set)

But sometimes we lose sight of what we’re good at. We get caught up in the day-to-day stuff, and take our strengths for granted.

Key questions

  • When was the last time you carried out a SWOT analysis on yourself? If it’s been a while, try it again and focus mainly on your Strengths.

*Here’s a SWOT grid I use when working with clients. In each section I’ve included some prompts; things to consider when completing the grid.

  • When was the last time you asked others what you’re good at? Sometimes it’s easier to do it this way. My experience in carrying out SWOT analyses with people is that they find it hard to think about their own strengths, and easier to think of other peoples’. A common reaction to others telling you what you’re good at is: “but that’s just my job, that’s what I do.” As you’re carrying out your daily duties, you are building up your skill set, developing your capabilities and growing these into your strengths.

Once you’ve got your strengths list, look for opportunities to use these more often. You’ll probably find that some activities relating to your strengths give you more enjoyment than others. For example, one of my strengths is organisation, but I don’t get as much enjoyment from being organised with my quarterly accounts as I do being organised in preparing for work with my clients!

What are your strengths, and how do you maximise them?

(Photo credit: Idea go)

Are you making the most of who you are? (Part 2)

August 24, 2011

In Part 1 we set the scene for making lists of your skills, strengths and personal qualities. I also introduced an exercise to provide you with external feedback.

So what did you find?

  • Were there common strengths that crossed over different areas of your life?
  • Were there strengths, skills or qualities that others recognised in you, which you had on your list too?
  • Were there any surprises?
  • Has this boosted your confidence in any areas?

Interpreting the results from the ‘Ask 6 People …’ exercise

So, hopefully you gained a range of responses from this. Here’s what to do with them …

1. Look for common trends / themes – perhaps more than one person said the same thing, or there were different comments but around a common theme. How can you use this to enhance or support your own list of skills / strengths?

For example, sometimes this exercise can highlight a skill others notice in you, which you don’t see as a strength … “It’s just the norm; it’s what I usually do” … are examples of how people have responded to this outcome. Changing your perception of this area as a strength can be a good confidence booster. It can also provide you with a further area to make the most of!

2. Be aware that the odd negative comment by a family member might be more about their agenda than yours. For example, a parent / sibling may say you don’t visit often enough.

3. Look at areas where you can stretch yourself. Perhaps, for example, there’s a comment that you are good at leading meetings at work, and could be even better if you just had a bit more confidence.

4. Where people have suggested what you could do less of (question 4), is this something you can delegate?

As Ellen Degeneres once said, “sometimes you can’t see yourself clearly until you see yourself through the eyes of others.” This exercise is good for highlighting this, but needs to be acknowledged alongside your own observations. So let’s turn to these.

Interpreting your list of strengths, from different areas of your life

For each item on your list, ask yourself how often you get the opportunity to show / use this. Are you satisfied with this, or could you find more opportunities?

Example 1: If your time management at work is good, could you transfer this skill-set to your home-life (or vice versa) ?

Example 2: If you’re good at writing or being creative, how often do you have time to do this? Is it enough? How else could you maximise it? Could you offer to do some writing for someone else in return for them providing something you need (skills-swap) ?

There may be some strengths, skills or qualities you have which you don’t want to do more of, as these would be more about meeting others’ needs and ignoring your own. Be mindful of these.

Philosopher Bertrand Russell said, “anything you’re good at contributes to happiness“. So what other benefits do we find when we make the most of what we’re good at? When I apply this exercise to myself the outcomes for me are:

  • I feel more confident
  • I have a more positive outlook
  • I am more motivated / more productive
  • I have more energy

For me, maximising my potential is also about developing myself, as well as others. It’s about a level of self-awareness about my personal strengths and knowing what my emerging strengths are that I could further develop. I then use this knowledge to set appropriate goals.

What are the benefits you’ve found from this exercise, or maximising your potential in other ways?

Would love to hear your thoughts / experiences. Feel free to comment below.

(Photo credit: Kongsky)

Are you making the most of who you are? (Part 1)

August 17, 2011

I often hear, and have used, the phrase “maximising your potential” in the context of personal and professional development.

But what does it mean in practice?

From your perspective …

In order to make the most of who you are, you need to recognise what you have; your skills, strengths, qualities, etc.

How often do we do this? During training events and coaching sessions, when I ask people to list their strengths, they often find this difficult. Lack of practice? Lack of awareness? The concern about not wanting to appear big-headed? Once you get started though, it’s surprising how your list grows! And there’s nothing wrong with celebrating your talents, successes and achievements. In fact it’s very healthy!

When building your list of skills / strengths, it helps to break it down into different areas of your life:

Work – e.g. reliable, organised, time-keeping, leading meetings

Family – e.g. ability to juggle many tasks, decision-making, organisation, creativity

Friends – e.g. trustworthy, honest, reliable, spending time with them

Hobbies & interests – e.g. running, cooking, playing a musical instrument

Some skills / strengths may cross over into more than one area, as you can see from the examples above.

Have fun making up your lists! We’ll come back to these in Part 2.

From others’ perspectives …

Other people often see us in a different light to how we see ourselves; they recognise positive qualities and strengths that we don’t necessarily see.

Finding out our strengths from others is a good way to top up our own list. You could also ask yourself, “What would (my close friend) say I’m good at?”; which could elicit a few more items for your list!

A useful task I’ve used before to gain feedback from others is “Ask 6 People 6 Questions”. Here’s how it works …

1. Make a list of at least* 6 people from different areas of your life (work, family, friends, clubs, associations, etc). The more varied the better; it will give you a good cross-section of responses and potentially more strengths / qualities / skills. Make sure they are people you believe will give you an honest response to your questions, and not just say what they think you want to hear.

*Thinking of more than 6 helps if some people you ask don’t have time.

2. Provide them with a list of the following questions:

  • What am I good at?
  • When have you seen me at my best?
  • What should I do more of?
  • What should I do less of?
  • What can you rely on me for?
  • Where do you think I can stretch myself?

They are suitably vague and non-leading. Encourage your responders to answer the questions as fully as they can.

3. If they (or you) want the responses to be anonymous, you could ask a trusted friend / colleague if the responses could be emailed (or posted) to them. The friend will then collate the responses and send you them, with names omitted. I usually find people don’t want / need to do this, but it’s entirely up to you. Do what works best.

Some of these questions may give you responses that highlight areas that you see as ‘weaknesses’. We’ll come back to this in Part 2, when I will look at interpreting the results from this exercise, as well as what to do with the lists you have devised for yourself.

In the meantime, make a note of the things you do well over the coming week, and make sure these things are somewhere on your lists. Also listen out for positive feedback from others. Does this reflect a skill / strength you’ve so far omitted?

(Photo credit: Danilo Rizzuti)