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Q&A: Leading Change is “Not Another Initiative”

Richard Gerver presents at the 2018 Transformative Leadership Summit

TLS Logo 2Richard Gerver will join more than 40 leading presenters in the third annual Transformative Leadership Summit, which will take place online from July 30 to August 7, and focus on empowerment for administrators, teachers, students, and parents. Educators can attend each day’s online sessions free of charge and can also purchase an all-access pass to get exclusive bonuses and archived content. Visit TransformativeLeadershipSummit.com to register.

Q: In the Transformative Leadership Summit, you are presenting on the topic of Administrator Empowerment. During your career as a school administrator, what were your strategies for making sure you personally felt empowered to lead?

Richard Gerver: It was vital to carry the courage of your convictions into leadership so that on the tough days, you have the confidence to drive on. Always audit your role on a daily basis and make sure that you spend at least an hour every day being proactive and leading rather than being reactive and managing. Most importantly, trust the people around you and delegate. It is not a leader’s job to solve all of the problems; it is a leader’s job to identify who is best placed to solve problems.  

Q: Administrators may often be in a role where they feel somewhat isolated, as they are the only person in their school or district who has their particular role, and they can have limited opportunities to interact with peers. Do you have advice for how administrators can seek out peers so they can mutually advise, encourage, and empower one another?

RG: Firstly, do not believe that your problems and challenges are unique or that by sharing concerns you are admitting weakness or a lack of competence. Collaboration, honesty and integrity are the most important characteristics of great leaders. Too many administrators isolate themselves and, usually, when they most need support or mutual encouragement. Make it your mission to find one or two people outside of your school that you meet up with regularly, no formal agenda, to chat. Don’t feel guilty about it and don’t let it slide! No problem can ever be solved in isolation because the creative thinking necessary is only possible with the injection of fresh perspectives.

Q: Much of your work has focused on leading meaningful change and helping others do the same. What must a leader understand about oneself, and about the way he or she interacts with others, before being ready to embark on a successful change initiative?

RG: They must be patient and realize that the most crucial part of any change process is the preparation. You need to create a context and capacity for change and that takes time. Change is not another initiative. Remember that systems and structures change nothing, people do! For change to work, for it to be authentic and sustainable, you need to work on developing a culture where change is led by the team, where it is incremental and based on continuous action research.

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