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How do we lead change without everyone getting seasick?

Utilizing well-established leadership models, protocols, and having a clear understanding of the stages of group change provide school leaders with the tools to lead change within the organization.

Leading Change: An 8-Step Process

John Kotter, a professor at Harvard Business School introduced his eight-step change process in his 1995 book, “Leading Change”. The process is adaptable to school leadership providing a framework to successfully lead change. The first step in Kotter’s model is to create a sense of urgency. Depending on the school, this can be quite simple or a huge challenge. For example, I worked at a public school that faced one challenge after another. By county evaluation standards, it was the worst, by far, of all 79 schools. The administrative team had been removed and a new team, of which I was a part, was brought in. There was no challenge in “establishing a sense of urgency” to make changes. And, by following the steps of Kotter’s model, we did successfully lead sustainable, measurable improvement.

Your school may not face these challenges, and setting the stage for the need to make changes may be a challenge in itself. Another leadership guru, James Collins writes, “Good is the enemy of great”. If your school is “fine” and everything is “ok”, yet you can see the potential for so much more, you know the frustration of convincing stakeholders that school improvement needs to occur. However, utilizing Kotter’s model for predictive planning can be a lifesaver!

Whether implementing a new initiative or transforming an organization, this model provides the framework to plan for success. Within the framework, utilizing data and protocols, gathering feedback, and maintaining clear focus leads to successful change.

Anyone that has ever led change knows that obstacles occur. In 1965, Bruce Tuckman developed the stages of group development-forming, storming, norming, and performing. For leaders, awareness of these stages can help predict and prepare for obstacles that inevitably arise as a response to change.

Understanding the concepts and models associated with transformational leadership alleviates frustration for school leaders allowing them to recognize and prepare for the natural progression of leading change. Determining school need, developing the vision, and maintaining focus allows passionate school leaders to steer their school on the course of transformative change.

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