So, what is the Director of Technology from our two previous posts to do? How will she deal with the high school principal, the major obstacle to her achieving the district’s technology vision?
If we are committed to a purpose worth doing, in this case changing teaching and learning with technology, then rationalizing why it cannot be done does not serve us. A great starting point for the fully accountable leader is to assess our own effectiveness. Remember, being a leader takes courage and self-honesty. It certainly is easier to look outside ourselves for answers; but so often the solution is within us.
Do I Speak with an Effective Voice?
The DOT might reflect on her own effectiveness as a spokesperson for the technology vision. If we have a powerful vision for the future and others do not share it, then maybe we are not communicating it with all our gifts. Do I tend to highlight the features and benefits of technology while ignoring the values and beliefs of my audience, in this case, the principal? If I tapped into those values might it open the way for the shift I seek? Am I intellectualizing the case for educational technology? How inspirational am I? Am I touching the hearts of my colleagues? There are many, many places to look when we focus on our own accountability, rather than blame and complain.
Am I Trusted?
The issue may be deeper than the DOT’s ability to communicate. Perhaps, over the years, unbeknownst to her, a lack of trust has developed. Colleagues may not believe that she is fully committed or powerful enough to bring the technology vision to reality. They may be reluctant to sign up for another false start. Once again, a little inward reflection can go a long way. Have I acted inconsistently in the past? Have I said one thing and done another, or not followed through on something? In the process, did I lose some of their trust?
Have I Avoided a Difficult Conversation?
Perhaps the DOT’s accountability may be to discuss her feelings about the principal’s fixation on test scores with him directly. Have I avoided a direct conversation with the person with whom I have an issue? Sometimes we put off these difficult conversations and rationalize our inaction with beliefs that support the status quo. “No matter what I say, he will never change.” Instead, we complain to our peers when the person with whom we have an issue is not around. This activity, triangulation, eventually erodes trust and is the downfall of high achieving teams.
When Do I Take a Stand with the Team?
It’s not unusual to find a Superintendent and his administrative cabinet who have adopted an educational technology vision, often in the form of a Board approved plan; and at the same time are acting in ways that are inconsistent with their commitment. They may merely be giving lip service to the vision. If this is the case, it’s highly unlikely that the principal will take the technology vision seriously either. It might be that the DOT can manifest her accountability, as a member of the team, by bringing this inconsistency to the team’s attention, rather than feeding into it with grudging silence.
It would take too long to sketch every possible action available to the DOT once she fully owns her own accountability. No matter how much we have done, if it is not producing the results we want, we must ask again, “What am I going to do about it?”
Accountability is empowerment.