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Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Which Way Did They Go?

Yesterday's Blog post discussed the dangers of blind obsession in developing and pursuing goals, particularly when the stated goal may not be the "right" goal. Today's Blog entry uses an excerpt from The Eighth Habit, a book by Steven Covey, to examine the need for goal clarity.

The author references a poll of 2,300 employees drawn from a number of companies and industries as a starting point on the importance of relevant goals within a context of shared meanings and the common good. He examines the difference between alignment and compliance, and contrasts the commitment of those who willingly enlist in the quest of a common and understandable goal and those who are merely expected or required to follow the goals of others. Covey explains the level of interest and the rate of commitment by projecting the statistics on an athletic team.
First, the data produced from the research study involving 2,300 workers.

1.  Only 37% said they had a clear understanding of what their organization is trying to achieve, and why.

2.  Only 20% were enthusiastic about their team’s and organization’s goals.

3.  Only 20% said they had a clear “line of sight” between their tasks and their team’s/organization’s goals.

4.  Only 15% felt their organization fully enables them to execute key goals.

5.  Only 20% fully trusted the organization they work for.

Covey breathes life into the statistics using the following example for illustration:

If a soccer team had these same scores (rate of interest, trust, and understanding), only 4 of the 11 players on the field would know which goal is theirs. Only 2 of the 11 would care. Only 2 of the 11 would know what position they play and exactly what they are supposed to do. And all but 2 players would, in some way, be competing against their own team members rather than the opponent.”

The findings of this study provide an important message for all organizations, including schools. This is especially true for those organizations that try to "grow" staff members like people grow mushrooms - keep them in the dark and pile fertilizer on them.

Information can be enlightening and empowering. The mission of a school must be credible, believable, and inspiring. Strategic goals should not be secrets developed by a select few people sequestered in a big conference room. Objectives should be relevant and meaningful, collaboratively crafted, discussed publicly, and clearly communicated in varied forms. Encouraging all staff members to become situational leaders lends credence to the saying that, "power is the only thing that multiplies when it is divided." Looking ahead through the telescope of an inspiring vision is critical. You can't move forward if all you're doing is looking behind yourself to cover your rear end. Transparent, transformational, servant leadership can leverage progress through people. Investing in people as human capital is more likely to prompt their enlistment in contributing to goals of the school than coercive, top-down directives that produce compliance at most, resistance at least.


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