It is not always easy leading through change – particularly when you want to model for others what you expect of them! It sometimes requires you to show your vulnerabilities, to acknowledge what you don’t know, and to ask others only to engage in changes that have meaning and value for them and the stakeholders we serve. It also means identifying those values, traditions, and practices that will be preserved.
We are told that “change is the constant” and that our complex and interconnected world will require all of us to think/rethink, act/react at a very fast pace. The sense of loss and fear of the unknown has to be balanced with the excitement of possibilities and the anticipation of something more rewarding. It means challenging that which is comfortable and familiar so that we can be more flexible and responsive to changes and pressures from the environment – both internal and external. The challenge for any leader is to “disturb” the status quo and empower people to reach beyond themselves in creating their own future.
I have also come to appreciate that while trying to lead in a culture of change, one has to expect messiness and accept that risks cannot be avoided and unforeseen consequences are a possibility. In fact, great leaders realize that change cannot be managed, but rather can only be understood and possibly led. As stated by Michael Fullan in his book entitled Leading in a Culture of Change:
“Leadership is not mobilizing others to solve problems we already know
how to solve, but helping them to confront problems that have not yet been
addressed successfully or in fact seen.”
In education, it is imperative that we establish a sense of urgency and a willingness to be innovative and responsive to the world around us if we hope to be competitive and help our students be prepared for the future. We need to act with knowledge while questioning what we currently know, and acknowledge that creating the conditions for change (providing opportunities to explore possibilities and to take risks) and the ability to sustain change (motivating and validating collective efforts) are essential for success. At SMS, our small learning community is well positioned to respond to the challenge of change recognizing that it will take us out of our comfort zone. It is this attitude that will help us build the strongest school for the future. As such, I invite you to actively participate in discussions with your daughter, with the school, and with the broader community on how we can implement “best practices” at St. Margaret’s.
Leading in a Culture of Change – Michael Fullan
The Six Secrets of Change – Michael Fullan