Ed Buzz (pen name) is a superintendent of a school district in California. I am a buyer of Ed Buzz’s leadership style and an enthusiastic fan of his blog The Ed Buzz Blog. I would encourage you to check out his blog. Imagine what our school systems would be like with 1000 Ed Buzz’s at the helm. I’ve copied and pasted the entire post below to save you the trouble of clicking another link – IT IS THAT GOOD!
Going into the New Year I know some of my managers are already lining up to get jobs they think they deserve… next year. That’s a mistake. I see it all the time. Bright young administrator starts thinking that the job they have is no longer challenging and that they are ready for bigger and better things – and they might be. However, on the race to their eventual ceiling something happens. They forget that the best job they can have is the one they have now.
Schools are interesting organizations. They demand a certain type of consistency, creativity and energy to function at their peak. To be a really great school leader, you need to have a certain amount of ambition and a desire to do things that set your school apart. However, it’s the ambition that is both the blessing and the curse of the great leader.
Honestly, it’s not too hard being a principal in the first year and a half. You fix problems created by someone else, you get to learn about the school community, your boss gives you time to acclimate and make ‘learning errors’ and you set your agenda. It’s a lot of fun. Everyone loves you and you start thinking this job isn’t so tough.
Then something happens. All the decisions and fixes you made are all now part of your record. You can’t say you are fixing a problem left by your predecessor. You have to start living with your decisions. Things happen because you either let them- or don’t, so those you now own the problems you haven’t quite gotten to yet. The love you felt early on is now part of the background. You are what you are. The thrill is gone.
But, instead of dreaming of the next job, the great leader needs to do something that separates the average from the great. They learn to love the grind. They realize that the best job they can possible have is the one they have now and they continue to love it just as they did on day one. They take ownership of their previous errors and continue grinding away to fix those issues and the ones they haven’t gotten to yet. They learn that the deeper they go, the harder it is to fix them. Great leaders know this and relish the opportunity.
The vine leader (one who just want to climb), on the other hand, watches the calendar and feels under appreciated. They don’t love the grind, play it safe, blame others for their own shortcomings and take credit when it’s not due. They can’t get their ticket punched quickly enough so they can get the title and paycheck they think they deserve. They contribute little to the long-term health of their schools. They have not intention of staying long enough to live with their own mistakes. They fear that opportunity.
So while my first, second and third year leaders are doing great things, they are not quite ready for the next step. They have two more important lessons to learn. To love the grind and that the best job they can possible have is the one they have right now. When they have done that, then they’ll be ready to be the high level leaders we need them to be.