It’s a busy world – our task lists are huge and the distractions are many. We hardly finish one thing when we are on to the next, barely looking up as we move on. Our devices with the lure of email, social media and games pull at our limited attention and time. It feels as though it connects us, but on a personal level we usually aren’t. Taking the time to stop, see, and connect with the people in your life, whether they are family and friends, work colleagues or casual acquaintances may be more important than ever – and it builds your leadership abilities.
Leaders need to see the people around them. They need to read emotions and to engage others in whatever is being planned by administrators or faculty. This skill is even more vital when it’s time to acknowledge the diverse members – and needs – of our school communities. Marlene Chism, whose post I discussed in last week’s blog, talks about the importance of making these people-to-people contacts, suggesting 2 Skills to Increase Connection in 2020. She says, “The desire to connect is at the core of what it means to be human.” The underlying truth is that humans are social organisms. We need the person-to-person contact for our well-being.
Chism’s first skill is developing Super Vision. Her explanation of this is powerful and the steps are clear:
Decide to notice the brilliance of others. Notice your neighbor’s ability to do carpentry. Recognize your grandmother’s love of crochet and see her genius. Observe your physician and lean about what it took to get through medical school. Realize the talent of your friend who plays in a band.
Now do the same for your employees in noticing their interests and talents, but don’t stop there.
Verbally acknowledge what you notice. Find the interest and appreciate what it took for them to do what they do. This skill takes practice and repetition, so do the same for your colleagues and boss. If you don’t see a skill or talent what about their character? Their sense of humor, their patience, their willingness to give 100%.
When you really start seeing others, your whole world and your heart expands.
As your Super Vision improves, you will see the special qualities your colleagues bring to their jobs and their lives. Acknowledge them and let them know you appreciate what they do. The same is true for students. With Super Vision, you’ll notice their gifts in and out of academics. In both cases, don’t focus only on the work they are doing. See what brings them joy as people.
The second skill is Letting Go of Judgement. Chism goes into detail on how judgement limits us and writes:
Seeing others as separate is a form of ostracism born from unconscious bias. It’s easier to judge “them” instead of entering into dialogue to find the connection. When you see others as “just like you” then, even when they are misguided, you can offer some grace, and make a connection.
Too often when we look at people, we categorize them, putting them in a box as though it’s the sum total of who they are. We note their age, their weight, their style of dress, and any other number of meaningless classifications. And then we judge them based on that.
I’ve written about my experience at the recent AASL Conference in Louisville, Kentucky, when I met an African American man with an incredible number of dreads, wearing a white tunic that extended below his knees. I smiled at him and said, “I love your hair. I can’t do much with mine.” From that we got to talking about libraries and librarianship and our purpose in life. His was bringing kindness to the world. We parted when I told him I needed to get to the keynote, and he responded he was the keynoter, Dr. Adolph Brown.
For his presentation he removed his fake dreads and the tunic and spoke of how some librarians asked if they could help him, implying he didn’t fit. Security guards approached him believing he had no business at the conference. I was honored he referred to our meeting especially when he said, “She saw me.” He exhorted us to not let our brains take over our mouths. Too often our brains have a picture of what something should be when we have no evidence to corroborate it.
We all want to be seen for who we are and what is the best in us. When those moments happen – they light us up. We remember them. Good leaders know this and help to bring it out in the communities with which they interact. By using Super Vision and Letting Go of Judgment, you will find new ways to enroll others to support your projects and ways to collaborate with them.
Who have you seen lately?