Leadership should not be something you turn on and off and it’s more than something you do. It’s a mindset and a way of being. When you see yourself as a leader, you carry your leadership qualities and skill set into all situations and regardless of the type of administrator you work for.
By being aware of what your administrator(s) want and need, and responding as a leader, you sharpen your leadership skills. Other people respond to your actions by seeing you as a leader. The more naturally you assume the role, the more you own this identification. Your colleagues and administrators come to view you as one of the building leaders and respond positively to your suggestions and proposals.
Managing or leading up can be critical in a building or school district where administrators change frequently or the one in place is inept. Jenn David-Lang and Donna Spangler explain why and “How to Manage Up in a School Setting.” They identify six different administrators and what skills you want to employ:
- Brand new – Get in early and be regarded as a helper as the administrator becoming acclimated. Learn their goals and show how your work supports this.
- Hands-off or distracted – Take the reins and run. They won’t notice it, but the teachers will, and many will be grateful.
- Micromanager – Sending detailed reports shows you know how to do your job – and how they like to do theirs.
- Inexperienced with teaching and learning – Infographics are a good source of help. You want to present information as succinctly as possible so they can absorb it and see the connection.
- Know-it-all – Show that you’re aware of their knowledge. Introduce ideas with phrases like, “As you know…”
- Indecisive – Present options (but not too many) and offer rankings along with reasons or evidence for choices.
David-Lang and Spangler expand on dealing with these six types of administrators with their “AAHH” strategy.
Ask – You need information to prevent missteps. Ask questions to learn their vision, what they see as success, and gain a sense of who they are. You also want to know what issues the administrator is focused on and any background information on it.
Adjust – Change tactics depending on which of the type of supervisor you are dealing with. What worked for a previous administrator, might not work for your new one. For example, if you were a micromanager, presenting a plan of action and having a written agreement on who will do what (and probably by when) works well. With a hands-off administrator, you can be more general in your plan and stay focused on presenting the successful end result.
Head or Heart – Some administrators want just the facts. They love data. Others respond better to the emotion behind a project. Micromanagers and Know-it-alls tend to be the former. The others can fall into either category, so it helps to identify early how they react to information and present it in a way that facilitates their hearing you.
Hands – When you make a proposal, you need to support it with an action plan. All types of administrators need to know they can count on you to deliver—and make them look good.
Get to know your administrators and their style. Present yourself and your work in the best light by giving them what they need, the way they can you it best. When you do, you are better able to lead everywhere.