While lounging this long holiday weekend, with a good stack of educational journals next to my lawn chair, (hey, I'm great fun at parties!) I ran across an article about educational leaders using candor. The article interested me because I think candor is one of the qualities I have and I wanted to know what the authors said about it. Sure enough! They said it was good to have! I knew it!!
Ok, seriously (it's so easy to boost one's ego when you can't see your audience, don't you think?) what do you think about using candor? Do you wish you used it more? Do you think sometimes you use it too much?
I am not new to the leadership role, but am new to being an administrator. As I have supervised both licensed and nonlicensed staff over the past several years, I'll admit there have been times I wish I could have become Donald Trump and shout,"You're fired!" but I restrained myself. I've also wanted to say after observing a poorly planned lesson, "That was bloody awful!" like Simon Cowell does. Instead, I gather the facts and then sit down with the person and, in a caring manner, share with them my concerns and explain why we are letting them go or come up with a plan on how to make things better next time.
I do believe in servant leadership and I think candor goes hand in hand with that. How can I serve if I can't be honest in expressing my concerns and expectations? How can I serve if I am not open to candid discussions about how people think I am doing? How can problems be solved if we are not candid and honest in what the issues are?
Because educators come from a caring background, there have been many times when I have had a staff member tell me about something that is troubling them in regards to a colleague, but they don't want to say something to them for fear of hurting their feelings. I try to empower them to have a candid conversation with their colleague or offer to facilitate a discussion. I can't say that this is from older teachers who were trained in the "egg carton" mode of teaching where you stayed in your room and never discussed what went on behind your closed door. I am seeing this in younger teachers who are more familiar with professional learning communities and collaborative teaching models.
If we don't learn how to be candid with each other, how can a PLC or co-teaching model truly benefit the students? There will be times when people don't agree or when there is a problem regarding a student or schedule or curriculum that needs to be solved. Candid dialogue and discussion can help to "put the cards on the table" and solve the problem and move on.
The leader in the building or district sets the tone. If you believe in using candor, then your staff will. If you'd rather not talk about problems or personalities or any underlying issues, then your staff will learn that it is not safe for them to do so. I think candor is a good thing and a good tool to use. You have to decide when to use it just like all the other tools in our leadership toolbox. But it is a tool that shouldn't be allowed to just sit. And that's my Dr. Phil "tell it like it is" candor coming out!