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  • Writer's pictureDr. Lisa Gonzales

Move Up? Or Play It Safe?

At some point in each of our careers, we approach that fork in the road - stay in a position of comfort or take a risk, and then take that next step.

Moving further up into that "leader of leader" role can provide great challenges, and often those situations are those where we expand our skill sets, take us to that next level, bring great satisfaction. But that journey into the next level of senior management, whether in a business setting or in a school district, also means more constituents to which we have to respond.

Think about it. Assistant Superintendent. Deputy Superintendent. Superintendent. Moving up. Good idea?

When moving into the higher leadership positions, constituents expand to teachers, classified staff, parents, board members, the greater community, city leaders....and the list goes on and on. Here are just a few things to mull over when making that move, especially in public education.

Consider a coach.

A trusted, non-evaluative colleague can be a great sounding board in a time of transition. Perhaps look at it from a mentoring perspective. A coach or mentor would be great way to assimilate into a new role, from getting a handle on the new responsibilities to simply having someone you ask those questions that you might not feel entirely safe asking new colleagues. From a fresh viewpoint to exploration of decision-making considerations, or from greater interpersonal effectiveness to helping increase confidence, a coach can be the perfect approach to a successful metamorphosis into a new role.

Increase your patience quotient. A new role brings new learning. Thus, patience is key all the way around, from being patient with others who are trying to assist and may not be able to predict every need you might have to patience with oneself to acknowledge the inevitable learning curve.

If the change in leadership roles is due to change needed in the organization, patience is needed because change can never happen as fast as those who want the change to take place. And those involved with the change? Well, they might not want be ready for it, in which case fortitude, humility and persistence will be even more important

Sometimes 90% is okay.

I'm all about having high expectations, but if I expect everyone around to perform at 100%, or perform duties and lead projects the way I would want the work done, my expectations just might not be realistic. Take for example an event program or a flyer. Had it been under my purview, the flyer might have Arial as a font and more images, but if the font is different and the page is a wee bit plain, yet the person designing has taken pride in it and it really does pass the "good" sniff test, then thanks are due and the task should be considered finished.

I learned this one the hard way. A colleague took great pride in completing a specific task, but my desire for perfection resulted in nit-picking that really wasn't warranted. I realized the effort she put in was very good and that very good might not be exactly as I might have wanted. But keeping it in perspective, that very good was enough. Sometimes 90% really is perfectly fine.

Increased impact with greater decisions.

As we move up into the highest echelons of leadership, the decisions we are required to weigh in on have a much greater impact. No longer are we assigning yard duties to different areas of campus but making decisions that affect teacher's working conditions, staff member vacations, services for

students, and more. And those decisions carry more weight and a more significant impact. Moving up in the ranks means taking on those greater decisions, analyzing more information yet not allowing the scenarios to paralyze us. It takes a little more time, but finding our sense of equilibrium will, in time, enable those decisions to become less weighty.

Moving up?

Yes, it has its challenges...and it may be exhausting. But think of the lasting impact that can be made to an organization and for students. It's a risk, but it can be so worth it.

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