I worked for a boss at one point who told me, “The job of a leader is to navigate the grey. There is never a black and white, right and wrong decision to be made.” Unfortunately, I could not agree less.
The job of a leader, is not to navigate the grey, but to try and eliminate the grey. Our job is not to arbitraily drift in the wind, making decisions based on which way the sails are blowing or who is blowing the loudest on any given day. Our job is to remove ambiguity, while still celebrating empowered decision making. Our job is to give clear direction so that others do not have to wrestle with right or wrong, simply how to get the job done.
In the world we live in today we have so much relativism, so many who believe, “If it’s good for me, that’s all that matters” that we have lost sight of our real purpose. In the world of education, our entire mission is to serve others. We work to prepare a future generation that may never tangibly pay us back. We support and encourage the children of other adults, with little, if any, praise or validation. We work daily to bring about success that we will not be able to see the fruits of for a generation. Why? Because it is the right thing to do.
In our schools we have tremendous legislative pressures, pressures to perform, pressures to succeed. Teachers are encouraged to innovate, to experiment, to try something new. Teachers must feel the freedom to adapt, the freedom to try, without the fear of criticism and judgement. As a leader, my job is to help teachers understand what is working and what is not. My job is to train teachers on how to reflect and make quality decisions. My job is not to decide for them. My job is not to judge from on high. My job is to train them and encourage them so that they become their own greatest critics.
If leadership can begin to embrace the need to step out of the grey, we can begin to create teachers who learn how to embrace what is right. If we begin to focus on painting a solid vision, then our teachers can and will work tirelessly to support it. Living in a world of grey may allow a leader to feel valuable as they single handidly make decisions about what is right or wrong, but the reality is right is right and wrong is wrong regardless of what a leader says anyway.
Find your purpose today. Find your cause. Find your strengths. Find your focus and work tirelessly to achieve them. What’s right is throwing caution to the wind and making sure that the reason you became a teacher is still the reason you show up each and every day. That is not grey. That is what is right.
Let’s make learning last a lifetime. Let’s do what’s right.