From December 26-January 6 are the twelve days of Christmas (in some traditions) and we are celebrating each day with a fun leadership lyric and brief lesson. Original lyrics are here.
On the 1st day of Christmas, Frederick gave to me…
A process for proximity,
The most special gift is presence (proximity), but giving it consistently requires intention. Reflect on the flow of your day and build in a time and habit (process) for being present with people.
On the 2nd day of Christmas, Frederick gave to me…
Two gentle shoves,
When we do everything ourselves, we deprive others the opportunity to grow as leaders. Sometimes we need to give people a gentle nudge to take on something that will stretch them. We just need to stay close to support them.
And for a little extra inspiration today, we are replaying episode 51 of The Assistant Principal Podcast featuring Craig Martin. I guarantee it will provide more cheer than a full wassail bowl!
On the 3rd day of Christmas, Frederick gave to me…
Three good friends,
Leadership can be lonely. Identify three people who are special: A mentor, a peer, and a future leader. Invest in those relationships. It is like Christmas past, present, and future, but without the ghosts and humbugs!
On the 4th day of Christmas, Frederick gave to me…
Four magic words,
Strategic leadership is simple. Difficult, but simple. It comes down to four words: people, purpose, problems, and progress.
On the 5th day of Christmas, Frederick gave to me…
On the 6th day of Christmas, Frederick gave to me…
Six thoughts a straying,
Being strategic is about being intentional. Again, simple but difficult. Ignore those disparate thoughts – they are distractions. Be intentional, purposeful, and present.
On the 7th day of Christmas, Frederick gave to me…
Seven souls a singing,
Leaders shouldn’t create the vision. Leaders create the space and provide the support to develop a shared vision that represents the aspirations of the people who power the organization. Like a choir director, the leader then helps bring those voices together to create a remarkable sound.
On the 8th day of Christmas, Frederick gave to me…
Eight monkeys making,
Monkeys are the tasks that others try and “give” to you. Monkeys make work for you and, worse they make a distraction. Monkeys may be important to the monkey owner, but not to you. You don’t need to accept every “gift.” Acknowledge the monkey, but let it stay with its true owner.
On the 9th day of Christmas, Frederick gave to me…
Nine deeds demanding,
The one most essential thing! Demanding equals urgent, but urgent does not equal important! In this new year, I wish for you to be purposeful in all you do. People before deeds, and purpose before demands.
On the 10th day of Christmas, Frederick gave to me…
Ten fingers typing,
Do not confuse productivity for progress or action for improvement. Strategic leaders do not focus on action, they focus on incremental progress. In doing so, they consistently make things better with fewer words.
On the 11th day of Christmas, Frederick gave to me…
‘Leven people asking,
Being strategic means that we are intentional, and because we are intentional we ask before we act. Asking questions lets us identify problems so we avoid wasting time treating symptoms. When we include all stakeholders in questioning process, we usually have a better outcome.
On the 12th day of Christmas, Frederick gave to me…
Twelve leaders laughing,
Oh, but we take ourselves so seriously! And yet, the trees don’t care, the fish don’t care, and the world moves on with or without you. Be passionate about what you do. Recognize the value you bring to others. But always remember to laugh, for what kind of a leader can we be if we cannot laugh?
I hope you have enjoyed reading and reflecting over these past 12 days as much as I have enjoyed writing and sharing with you. And that you laughed 🤣 🤣 🤣
MVP: We choose whether or not a day is special.
The days – each one – are what we make of them.
Christmas is special, if you celebrate it, because you make it so.
You can make today special, tomorrow special, the day after, and the day after that.
What makes a day special?
Merry Christmas and happy holidays.
From December 26-January 6 are the twelve days of Christmas (in some traditions). To celebrate, the Strategic Leader Daily will release a 2-5 sentence email each day featuring a play on the original Christmas carol lyrics and a brief leadership lesson.
Today’s intention: Don’t wait for special. Make this day special by approaching it that way.
MVP: There is a story behind A-B, but the most important thing is to take an incremental approach to change.
Strategic leaders work A-B. We identify a small change that will make things a tiny bit better immediately and we execute that change.
But where did the concept of A-B come from?
At the end of the 2012-13 college football Season, The Ohio State University football team’s defense gave up 576 yards to Clemson University, losing 35-40 to the tigers in the Orange Bowl. This capped a season in which the defense ranked 48th overall and 110th in pass defense (out of 130 teams). Defenders were consistently out of place and slow to react. Following the season, new defensive coordinator, Chris Ash, began a defensive overhaul epitomized by the phrase: “4-6, A-B.” He asked for players to go from point A to point B with relentless effort for 4-6 seconds.
The focus is on moving from one point to the next point in the sequence by closing the shortest distance in the shortest time.
Working A-B helps us stay focused and make immediate improvements. And if the situation doesn’t improve, maybe because we misdiagnosed the problem, we haven’t wasted a huge amount of time or effort.
Speaking of A-B, you can take small steps to being a better leader with our new guide Be a Better Leader in 5 Minutes a Day! Click here to download.
Today’s intention: Think about your change initiatives. What can you do to make them simpler? What can you do to create A-B improvements for people right now?
MVP: Developing people requires a systems approach.
We generally hold athletic coaches in high regard. Unless they lose to their rivals like my Buckeyes did last month 😖
What do we expect from them?
Winning of course, but we expect coaches to excel at player development. The essential part of a coach’s job is to help players become better by improving their skills and physical attributes.
In fact, the better the athlete, the more important coaching becomes!!
So why does it seem like developing teachers, salespeople, medical technicians, or anyone else is optional?
I reflect on my experiences as a teacher. I earned National Board Certification and was regarded by (most) of my students and their families as an excellent teacher. But I know so much more now than I did back then and I can identify so many missed opportunities and small tweaks that would have helped me be so much better.
Why is intensive development optional, for leaders and for those they serve?
Today’s intention: Step back and think about your organization and the systems it has in place that support consistent development of your people. What’s working? What’s not? Are there any simple tweaks to make coaching or supporting growth a tiny bit easier?
MVP: Failure can be productive when we make it public and learn from it.
It doesn’t take courage to fail.
It does take courage to publicly acknowledge it, and to turn it into something different.
“When we model productive failure, we reposition adults and we reposition students to see their reality in terms of the ways they contribute to the community. That is what students are seeking. They’re seeking their place, they’re seeking their tribe, they’re seeking their group, they’re seeking those people who are like-minded to them, and adults are the same way.”
So says the incomparable Dr. Mary Hemphill on today’s episode of The Assistant Principal Podcast.
This is a re-release of episode 26 that aired way back in May 2022. This episode is one of my top three favorites, so I hope you listen and grow from it as much as I have.
Today’s intention: Think about a recent failure, big or small. Is there or was there a way to publicly dissect it and learn from it so that others would see how failure can be productive?