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?