What’s the Leadership Buzz?

Bees are amazing creatures.  Did you ever think that they are a lot like the best versions of us?  They work together towards a goal.  Each member of the hive is meticulously taught their role in the community which they fulfill with precision, accuracy and skill.  They care for their young, nurturing, protecting and nourishing them until they can fulfill their purpose.  They clearly communicate with each other directions for where to locate the most bountiful flowers to make the world a more beautiful and delicious place as they spread pollen, feed their young and produce a delicious byproduct-honey!  And they expend a lot of energy in their sweet pursuits with benefits to the world that they are not even aware.  There is a saying, “you can catch more bees with honey than with vinegar,” but in leadership and learning it takes more than a sweet touch of honey to move ideas forward.  Just like with our bee friends, it also takes energy- a lot of energy!

Albert Einstein contributed to the body of science by defining E=mc2. The energy of a system is equal to its mass multiplied by the speed of light squared.  It may just represent the idea that what you put into something is equivalent to what you get out.  A beehive exudes energy and so should leadership.  Using the beauty and simplicity of E=mc2 we have a framework for leadership, teaching and life:

Expectations= Modeling + Coaching X Celebration (or Consequences)

Expectations.  Before we can expect results, the goal must be completely transparent to everyone.  Clarity of intended outcomes ensures success.  When teaching a lesson, planning for school improvement, laying out a project management plan, going on vacation, retirement planning, or anything else in life, start with the end in mind.  The pathways to get there may be creative, varied and unique to a situation, but being able to simply articulate this is the cornerstone.

Modeling and demonstration.  Before we can expect others to be experts or even proficient at anything they must first know and understand what the end result should look like and be able to see what it is that you want them to do.  Benjamin Franklin monumentalized this in his quote, “Tell me and I forget.  Teach me and I remember. Involve me and I learn.” Research on learning theory and brain-compatibility further supports this idea. Set the standard.  Make it explicit.  Provide an exemplar.  Show and tell. Model the way. 

Coaching and Monitoring with feedback.  Before we can celebrate success, we have to inspect what is expected and if you expect results and growth, coach your team up.  Feedback is one of the essential elements of good communication.  High quality feedback should include the elements of a goal and performance level, evidence, and specific suggestion for how to improve. The message has to be objective, timely and clear with consideration taken for situations, events and relationships. In more general terms, “this is your current state, this is where you need to be and here is some direction on how to move toward getting there.”

There are several ways to provide feedback based on the purpose.  Confirmative feedback is intended for praise and encouragement. Prescriptive feedback, which is best suited for coaching, can be directive or facilitative depending on what a situation calls for but should have specific, actionable next steps and can include reflective questioning.  Descriptive feedback can be either specific or general and is well-suited for summative or anecdotal situations.

Celebration (or Consequences).  After we have set the expectations, spend time showing others what to do and how to do it and have given guidance through coaching and feedback, then it is time to celebrate the incremental successes.  …. is one of the most important part of the process because success with beget success and will reinforce… Honoring progress can provide the needed motivation to continue to take risks and continue to develop and evolve.  Conversely, if there is no effort or movement toward goals, new plans can be created to clarify expectations, repeat the modeling, and provide additional feedback or determine appropriate intervention. Celebration ultimately is the honey that you can catch more bees with!

So with the awareness of E=mc2 think about ways to look at the same landscape with new eyes. Create a leadership buzz and build on the energy in the hive! Set expectations, provide models, monitor and coach, and then celebrate success.

Shana Rafalski, Ed.D. | Vice President of Digital Instruction Strategies
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