All the great organizations in the world, all have a sense of why that organization does what it does.
I consider myself to be a student of leadership. It is my desire to continue to improve my ability to point our schools in the right direction and have a positive impact on those that learn and work there. With that said, I spend a lot of time reading leadership books/articles, watching videos, and attending seminars on how to improve leadership in schools. My wife calls me a leadership nerd and bemoans my tattered copy of Good to Great that I keep on my nightstand.
I recently discovered the work of Simon Sinek author of Start With Why and Leaders Eat Last. These books take a pragmatic look at the way we structure our organizations and lead people. His concepts and suggestions aren’t revolutionary, but they are a great reminder of why we do this important work. The tagline for Start With Why is, “People don’t buy what you do they buy why you do it.” The premise of this book is that great organizations have a well defined “Why” or sense of purpose.
These readings have made me ponder the “Why” for our schools. It is very easy for schools to cite student achievement or a rigorous curriculum or great athletics as their “Why.” I believe that our purpose is much larger than that. Our “Why” is Amazing Experiences. That doesn’t mean great experiences for students only (however, that is important), but great experiences for every person that walks through the school doors. I want our teachers, staff, custodians, secretaries, parents, and lunch ladies to have an amazing experience in our schools. Heck, I want the FedEx guy to LOVE delivering to our schools.
If our teachers love coming to school everyday, they will be better able to create amazing experiences for kids, and if kids have amazing experiences at school, they will be better connected to the material. If kids are better connected to the material, they will achieve more, and if kids achieve more, parents want to be more connected to their school. The cycle goes on, and on, and on. This is why we constantly review our practices and seek out ways to create memory makers for our students. It’s why we push so hard for a home/school partnership. It is also why we support our innovative teachers and give them the resources they need to create these experiences.
The bottom line is that our “Why” defines everything we do because it produces superior results and makes for a great school experience. What we do and how we do it may evolve over time; our why will remain constant and will continue to drive our decisions.