Thursday, August 8, 2019

Failure is in all of us so Let's be Real About It

Lincoln...he's flawed...shows weakness...shows humanity

Abraham Lincoln ranks as our greatest president according to C-SPAN's perennial evaluation by 90 historians who use 10 criteria ( Yet, Elizabeth Brown, in her highly respected and thoroughly researched book "Six Encounters With Lincoln" ( explains that something compelled Lincoln to shrink from exercising crisp authority from time to time, and his erratic leadership sometimes led directly to battlefield losses. He's flawed...shows weakness...shows humanity. As mythical a character as he is, firsthand testimony attests to the "...hazard of [Lincoln's] good nature... the fallibility of a man irresolute but of kind intentions."

So, the greatest president is flawed. Turns out that the C-SPAN historian cadre identified weaknesses in every one of the 43 presidents (did you know that Washington was a poor military strategist?). Like most educational leaders I’ve met, I strive for perfection... all the time. I also know I harbor plenty of “grows;” I’d go so far as to state that I have more flaws than strengths. Why is it then that the professionals around me fall out of my favor when I realize their weaknesses? I don’t react this way to my family’s foibles. I realized my wife isn’t perfect after the initial rush of love, and I came to accept her imperfections (just as she has accepted mine) because I realized that relationships lean on compromise to thrive. Shouldn’t this “rule” of relationships apply to our professional connections as well?

A leader is responsible for promoting positive culture

My learning curve is steep, which accounts for the time it took me to come to this realization. There's little doubt that continuity of leadership is requisite to institutionalizing change. You're responsible for promoting positive culture, you work with your team to cultivate that culture, and now you have to depend upon that team to continue fostering the culture.

I’m not pronouncing anything new when I point out that continuty of leadership at all levels (supervisor, principal, etc.) is integral to realizing culture change goals. The continuty will come if those with whom we’ve surrounded ourselves give us high yield even if they’re not perfect (and nobody’s perfect). How about we all give each other a break and roll with the downsides?

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