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Hold People Accountable Through Explicit Communication

communication Jun 15, 2020

On the 4th of July, not too long ago, my daughter and I ventured outside to watch the fireworks at a friends barbeque. We both hate loud noises (sparklers are more my speed), but did not want to miss the “people watching” opportunity. 

We sat in the back of my truck as this mix of adults and teens lit bottle rockets in the middle of the street. The adults modeled and taught the teens how to properly light the fuse at the bottom of the rocket and get out of the way. 

The crowd started to grow as a pick-up basketball game was started by the adults. Leaving the fireworks to a couple of teens. 

I happened to notice one teenager was attempting to light a Roman Candle. A Roman Candle, if you do not know, is a rocket that you hold in your hand as it shoots fireballs into the air. 

This teen, who learned how to light the bottle rocket safely from the bottom, was not aware that a Roman Candle lights at the top. But he had the rocket upside down. His face was...

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Escape Being the Best Kept Secret

Today, there is just one message I wanted to pass on to you dedicated readers. 

Because leaders are readers and readers are leaders. 

People need just one reason to start following you, but many reasons to keep following you. 

Six years ago, when I was just starting Leaders Building Leaders, I hired a sales coach because let's be honest, in the world of education, words like sales and profit are dirty words. 

Most educators do not see themselves as sales people, or like asking people for things, but they do it every day. 

We were four or five sessions into our sales coaching sessions and my sessions were not productive.

My coach asked me one simple question. 

"What is your story?" 

I went on to share my experience as an exceptional children's teacher, principal, my doctorate in education leadership and time as a state wide consultant who developed many state wide initiatives to open and improve public charter schools. How on the last day in...

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What I Struggle With Most: Listening

Today (April 20) is the anniversary of one of my greatest leadership landmine lessons where I learned...

Those who don't listen to their people will eventually be surrounded with those who have nothing to say.

You know how principals sometimes find themselves working on large projects by themselves that should be a collaborative decision.

Well, ten years ago I developed the second half of the school year calendar over our winter break. I was very proud of myself, feeling “ahead” for once. When the staff returned we went over the key dates and celebrations.

On the calendar I listed April 20th as Earth Day. Leading up to the event I was excited hearing all of the cross-content ideas the team was putting together for Earth Day. The day ended up being a HUGE hit. I could not have been more proud of the way the staff came together as collaboration had been one of our areas for growth. 

You could imagine my surprise when two days later I woke up, on April 22nd,...

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To Be Unclear is to be Unkind: A Note To School Leaders

This is a note to all decision makers in education.

In times of crisis, it is alright to be uncertain, but it is never alright to be unclear. To be unclear is to be unkind. 

Over the past 30 days, schools across the country have been forced to take their education plans virtually and serve all students the best that they can with very little, if any, preparation. 

Parents are scrambling to balance being full time employees, home makers and now home school teachers. Doing their best to keep up with the work. Identifying and filling in the learning gaps they now see in their children. Blaming teachers for not “making it easy” for them to follow the daily lesson and questioning what is my child learning at that school? 

Teachers are creating new ways to educate and engage students remotely, collect and grade work, take attendance, and do what they can to create some sense of a routine. Many have very little information on how to do all of these because they...

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Avoid This E-Communication Killer

communication leadership Apr 14, 2020

This is one of my most valuable lessons, and if you read this entire blog, you will be an expert on how to avoid this problem. 

Stick with me, it’s worth it.

First, let’s assume that you find the perfect article or resource to share with your team or staff.  

Something that, in your eyes, they would be foolish not to want to read or see.

And then you send it… and NO ONE REPLIES. 

Not only does no one reply. You do not see any evidence that anyone read and implemented it. 

 Why? What happened?

Let me show you some examples in hopes to clarify some things.

During our COVID-19 time, or maybe even before, many of you have either received or forwarded email to a friend, colleague or a supervisor that either has no text or a few words like; “Check this out”, “This is great”, “Love this!” or  “Take a look” and a link to an article, program, or resource. 

You, being a great friend or...

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How to Have a Difficult Conversation

communication leadership Jan 31, 2020

Every day we have crucial conversations.

However, there is one single factor that determines whether that crucial conversation is difficult or not. 

Want to know this secret I have learned? Sometimes in the hardest way possible. 

Take 30 minutes to listen to our latest podcast and begin how to master this secret. 

 

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Inspect What You Expect

 

"Hey, I’m Dr. Tom Miller and I’ve got an idea I want to share with you today: To be an effective leader you must inspect what you expect. 

An expectation is defined as believing that something is going to happen or believing that something should be a certain way.

However, any expectation not communicated is merely a thought. 

I know I struggle with communicating clear expectations. It is something I have to work on daily. I will allow my faulty assumptions to close that expectation gap. Which has never led to great results. 

As a consultant and coach for school leaders across the country, the lack of clearly understood and communicate expectations is the number one issue I see in broken relationships, poor performing teams and the cause of most conflicts.

As a result, the organization suffers and people quit other people. 

Here are seven steps you can adopt to communicate clearer expectations:

Get clear yourself. Most things are crystal clear in...

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Seven Steps to Clearly Communicated Expectations

communication leadership Sep 19, 2019

Recently while consulting for a charter school having challenges with their school culture, a group of teachers were complaining about their board not understanding their school, not attending school events or touring the school. I asked one teacher, “Is that what you expect them to do? Do they know that? I have been a board member for over four years now and I’d be really surprised to hear that is what is expected of me.”

An expectation is defined as believing that something is going to happen or believing that something should be a certain way. However, any expectation not communicated is merely a thought.

I know I struggle with communicating clear expectations. It is something I have to work on daily. I will allow my faulty assumptions to close that expectation gap. Which has never led to great results.

As a consultant and coach for school leaders across the country, the lack of clearly understood and communicate expectations is the number one issue I see in...

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The Most Dangerous Leadership Style

communication leadership Aug 29, 2019

The most dangerous leadership style is assumptive leadership. An assumption is something you accept as true or certain. For example, when I was a principal and my teachers were not at their doors at 7:30 greeting students my assumption was they were either late to work or chose not to follow our agreed upon expectations. 

The problem was, rather than walk to the classroom to understand what the reality was and check on the teacher and seek to understand, I would  hold onto it, allowing the feeling of resentment become more entrenched. 

I know how wrong my assumptions usually are. The key is that it’s just a story I’m making up. Often, the other person isn’t even aware I’m holding on to an assumption.

Has this ever happened to you? Have you led by assumptions in the past? 

I have learned that in the absence of information, we assume the worst. As a result, create a fictional divide between people that can dismantle working...

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