Sort of like “Why did the chicken cross the road”? Maybe the better question should be “UNDER WHAT CIRCUMSTANCES did the duck cross the road”?
I think you’ll enjoy this 27 second video — the German voice over isn’t relevant — just watch the ducks and the traffic signal:
I’ve watched it a few times trying to figure out what the actual stimulus was for the lead duck — it certainly appears like he recognizes the light change. Regardless, once the right conditions were in place — in other words, a safe environment to take the risk of crossing the road — every duck took the leap of faith and walked.
Educational leaders set the conditions for student and staff success
Without a safe environment people just generally don’t take risks. However, when they see their leader taking a justified risk — if they see the surrounding conditions as safe — employees and others will be more likely to take that leap of faith.
As a leader you can encourage this risk-taking culture if you:
- lead by example and take personal risks in your own leadership style;
- not take yourself too seriously and admit your own failures and attempts at making improvement;
- acknowledge and celebrate those who try something new; and
- provide for a variety of places that staff can try new things:
- maybe it’s a new course to teach or offer in their school,
- maybe it’s a professional learning opportunity that you say ‘Yes’ to allowing, or
- maybe it’s a place to share everyone’s successes.
An absolutely CRITICAL part of any leader’s role is to create the conditions necessary for their staff to ‘cross the road’ or to ‘take that leap of faith’ — creating both the structure and cultural climate that turns the traffic signal to ‘walk’.
We continually improve our schools if we regularly show our staff and students that it’s OK to fail, but it’s never OK not to try.