All organizations operate under time cycles and school districts are no exception. The end of the calendar year is the mid-point of the academic year. Frequently, the schedule will slow as the organization is “hitting its stride” for the year and the holidays are approaching. This is a good time to pause and reflect with your team in order to make adjustments as you begin the New Year.
In making a “midcourse correction,” it is important to remember that leadership and management are not the same. Leaders focus on the future and on dealing with change. Management largely deals with the “here and now” and those issues that can be measured. Management is based on varying metrics that organizations utilize (profits vs. loss, number of clients or students, customer share, scores on exams, etc.). But while it may be easier to measure, management is not easy. With that in mind one expert observed that “Lots of folks confuse bad management with destiny”. Obviously, an effective leader must understand management and the two do in fact overlap. Consequently, the middle of the year is an excellent time to review carefully the metrics established at the onset of the year in order to ask several questions. How are we doing against the goals we set for ourselves? What is achievable and what is not? Where do we need to place more emphasis? Are our metrics correct or are there other things we should be looking at for the balance of the year?
It is also important to place this snapshot of a few months into the broader context for the organization. A famous seer once said, If you don’t know where you are going…any road will get you there. Any review should examine progress against the organization’s mission and strategic vision. Strategic “vision” is a picture of a desirable future. It is important for any organization as it provides continuity and links between the past and future. Establishing a clear vision for any organization and communicating it to all “stakeholders” is crucial to the success of any organization. It allows everyone to understand what they are doing…why they are doing it…and how is it linked to the future. Great accomplishments are possible when every member of the organization is committed to the vision.
Organizations and individuals must constantly reflect on their vision and mission statements. They are more than mere slogans. They are critical to the conduct of strategic planning and to making adjustments as required. For any organization, it requires a better understanding of the complex interplay of the leader with internal and external conditions that provide both opportunities and challenges. Understanding the volatile, uncertain, complex, and ambiguous environment that most leaders confront allows the leader to better comprehend his or her role. It will also facilitate better consideration of how best to coordinate organizational efforts to effect strategies, plans, and choices for success.
With this in mind, a mid-year assessment should also include tying managerial analysis with the organization’s longer term mission and vision. Mission and vision statements are the essential “tools.” They ensure that everyone understands the direction we are headed in and how their individual efforts contribute to the attainment of longer term goals.
Dr. Jeff McCausland is Founder and CEO of Diamond6 Leadership and Strategy, LLC. His most challenging and unique leadership experience was leading and commanding 750 troops into the first Gulf War. He is proud to say that everyone came home healthy and safe.
This article is from our November, 2011 newsletter. Click here to view all our newsletter articles and features.