Becoming self aware as a person and as a leader is a journey. Two essential ingredients are reflection and feedback. We cannot truly gauge our success as leaders without asking the people we serve how we’re doing. Seeking feedback helps us check the assumptions we make about ourselves and our impact.
Last June, I asked our staff to complete a voluntary anonymous survey about my leadership as a school principal. After reading Leading with Trust by Susan Stephenson, I realized it was time for me take closer look at my leadership practices and especially my trust factor with staff. This was a little scary, since I knew that not all feedback would be positive, but I also knew it was the best way for me to grow as a leader. My Leadership Survey was based on her example and included some rating questions and two open response questions. Stephenson cautions that sometimes the results can be hard to take. The purpose was to get better picture of myself as a leader, so I needed the good, the bad, and the ugly.
I was pleased that 54% of staff completed a survey, more than enough to form a good sampling of opinion. The results? Super interesting! There were many positives where people recognized my strengths as an organized, committed and passionate instructional leader. Some offered really thoughtful insights on how I could do better. There was a strongly worded criticism, but in the end, it served to make me examine my behaviour more deeply. My biggest challenge was very clear: I need to become more approachable with all staff so they feel they can openly and easily share thoughts and feelings with me. Reflecting on these results was humbling but incredibly powerful.
My next actions include sharing the results with staff and investigating how to build better trust. I want to become a better leader. I want to be more effective. I’ve taken the first step and more steps will follow. I challenge everyone to ask for feedback. Its effect is priceless.