For those who don’t get it…

Something that occasionally presents itself in the world of leadership is that there is one person, also a leader, who doesn’t “get it.”

Maybe it’s another teacher, a member of administration or your direct supervisor. They see what you are doing, they know that those you lead appreciate what you’re doing, but for one reason or another, they don’t think it applies to them. It’s usually one of the following: they think they’re already doing it,  they think their team is doing fine and they don’t have the time to “waste,” or they think their way is better.

Unfortunately (for those they’re leading), they’re usually incorrect, at least some of the time.

It’s probably true that they are practicing some good leadership practices. They may come up with good compliments, but not often enough. They may give good instructions, but no follow-up. They may ask what they can do for others, but not consistently.

The first step is recognizing that this is another person you can lead. Maybe not on the organizational chart, but you can be of help to them. You can push them beyond their fear of “leading outside the box” and help them get better.

The next step is identifying “The Reason.” The Reason is the excuse they’re using to justify using phrases like “I need you to…” and “Don’t…”; it’s why they haven’t made a habit out of frequent, specific, behavior-based feedback. Once you know The Reason, you can address it.

Do they think they do enough? Invite them to partake in a little experiment where they increase in one area (say, written thank you notes) and measure the results.

Do they feel they should be spending their time on “work stuff” instead of developing themselves as leaders? Appeal to their desire for efficiency by showing them the productivity increases by a team that feels valued.

Do they think their way is better? This one is the toughest.  If you feel you’ve gone as far as you can modeling good leadership behavior, try talking to them like you would to one of your team members. Use non-threatening language. Be specific. Be careful to avoid rounds of “my team is better than your team.”

What are some other obstacles you face when working with people who just “don’t get it?” How have you tried to overcome them?

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