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Program Design, Development, and Quality / Staff Leadership and Management

Don’t look at the chipped paint on the walls…

Don’t look at the chipped paint on the walls…

Even I have to admit, it’s easy it is to be distracted professionally by things that are relatively unimportant to our organization’s overall goals. How do we as executive and organizational leaders refocus our minds on what gives us joy in our work lives while also driving us towards our mission?

This seems to be especially important as we deal with the lingering impact of the pandemic and start the process of emerging out of the collective fog that has permeated many classrooms, organizations, and businesses. Here are three ways to reset our thinking:

1. Get Mindful

It is so easy to pick up and go without appreciating where we have been and what we have learned. One of my favorite reads is The Pause Principle by Kevin Cashman. He encourages using a simple pause point to consider where we are, where we have been, and where we are going. I will say that taking time for reflection is a learned skill – but the payoff is immeasurable as it brings clarity and direction.

Looking for a simple mindfulness activity? Build a mind jar and watch STEM Unplugged: Mind Jar, A Simple Tool for Calm to learn how our brain reacts when we’re feeling overwhelmed and stressed.

2. Mission Check

Make a simple four-quad diagram (see below) with Mission on the Horizontal Axis and Impact on the Vertical Axis. Plot the mission alignment as follows:

  • Upper left quadrant: Activities that are low alignment, but high impact
  • Upper right quadrant: Activities that have both high alignment and high impact
  • Lower left quadrant: Activities that are both low alignment and low impact
  • Lower right quadrant: Activities that are highly aligned to mission but have low impact.

Once you have things plotted out, think about how your team’s collective time is being used with respect to meeting the mission of your organization. What would it take to move an activity into the high alignment/high impact quadrant? Are there activities we should eliminate? Be honest in your reflections and share with your team to get feedback.

4-quadrant graph to map organizational impact

3. Engage

When was the last time you conducted an audit with your team? Many of us had to pivot our programming model to adapt to the pandemic environment, leading to collective and individual learnings. What a great opportunity to gather as a team to share our thoughts, reflections and start building a new path forward for our work. Not sure how to initiate conversation? Ask staff for examples of what they have learned about themselves, the program, and what ideas they have for growth going forward.

As leaders we can be in “fix-it” mode 24/7and find ourselves missing the big picture because our focus is on that which is secondary to our purpose. Taking time out to refocus, reflect and engage, you may find the solutions that you didn’t even know you needed.

P.S. If we aren’t talking about growth – we remain the same and risk elimination.

For breakfast, I had banana, coffee and oatmeal.

Author: @kathybihr

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