Cracking the DaVinci code

Recently I met with a group of principals who were still relatively new to the role.

In a general discussion about the challenges we all face, a predictable question arose: Given the incredibly busy context within which they work, how can school leaders sustain the effort necessary for getting the job done and for maintaining professional satisfaction?  In other words, what’s the secret of professional survival?

I suppose the question reflects the feelings we all have as a very busy year begins to burn itself out.  But there’s more to it.  If they are to thrive in today’s climate, leaders have to be adept at working smarter, not harder, all year round.

Smart leaders who have mastered the art of keeping their energy levels high have a valuable little compass – a moral purpose – which keeps them on track. It helps them to make sense, to determine priorities and to make good on-the-run decisions.

These leaders are quite radical in that they have the capacity to go back to basic principles, maintain continuity and then push the boundaries.

They persist relentlessly with the tasks that really matter.  And when things don’t go according to plan, they adapt with resilience, coming back to the task from a new and fresh angle.

Connecting all of this is an essential simplicity – a precision – which enables the leader to conserve energy for the few things that really matter.  These set the agenda, not the thousands of distractions that vye for our attention – distracting us from the essential tasks of the day.

Leonardo da Vinci cracked the code when he said, ‘Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication!’  It’s the distinguishing quality of the smart leader.  A clear moral purpose with a precise focus on what really matters each day plus a relentless and sharply focused persistence.

How many of us work hard at maintaining personal energy and professional satisfaction?

3 thoughts on “Cracking the DaVinci code

  1. A poignant comment, Greg:

    “Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication!’ It’s the distinguishing quality of the smart leader”

    We tangle ourselves in a web of policy and procedure (much of which is necessary), but we often find that the best school improvement occurs when the simplicity of a teaching/learning strategy has leadership improvement at its heart.

    May we continue to ‘de-privatise’ teaching!

  2. Thanks Greg: I too like the quote “simplicity is the ultimate sophistication” and yes morale purpose is our compass.
    I was in the States last year and heard a very damming statistic that in many states one of the data sets they use to plan future prisons is the year 3 reading scores – I had the occassion to use this quote recently to teachers to urge them urge to try harder – to do something more frequently – or to do something different – for those below benchmark students so that no child in our care became that statistic – yes morale purpose drives us.
    Fullan in his book Turnaround Leadership puts a strong argument on the effects of low social status, which reading score contribute to, when he urges us to raise the bar and most importantly close the achievement gap.
    The solutions to closing this gap are multi layered but the morale purpose is simple for to ignore it is at the larger communities peril.

    And yes Jason I agree de-privatising teaching is one of the challenges in this quest for instructional improvement to raise this bar and close this gap.

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