The teacher who comes to the team meeting ready to create and vision together is met with a cynical team that says they don’t have time for that right now. They need to grade papers, make copies, and prep for the next day.
The principal who has an ingenious idea, brings it to his administrative team, and is met with an impassive attitude because everyone is too busy with their to-do list of managerial tasks.
The district leader, who has experienced success in trying something new and different, shares her strategy, and is turned down immediately with the pretense of it not being scalable, and therefore wouldn’t work on a systems level.
What happens when we continue with “what works?” Being consumers instead of creators? Staying committed to a particular path even when the circumstances have changed? Keeping your head down? Accepting the current reality without any regard to what could be?
What happens is that you have flames that are quickly extinguished. Ideas that never break the surface. Potential that is never realized. Apathy that drowns out passion. Continued frustration by the observed lack of urgency, creativity, and zeal…
But could we (as leaders) be the cause of this?
You see, every time we demand (note the verb here) a deadline, a “have to,” a form, a new initiative, another meeting, another step in the process, etc., we are creating the very thing we’re trying to change.
It’s like trying to melt ice on a subfreezing day by throwing hot water on it. Eventually it will freeze (sometimes hot water freezes at a faster rate, check out the Mpemba Effect), and now you have a thicker sheet of ice.
Unless… We make the choice to lead instead of manage. Listen instead of tell. Act instead of react. Question instead of accept. Change instead of staying the course. Now instead of later.
Whether we realize it or not, we can influence the environment and circumstances around us. You are the catalyst for breaking the cycle.