Striving for Excellence

A professional colleague said something to me about 15 years ago that I remind myself often of in both my personal and professional interactions…he said something like this…you’re focused on excellence when you target the process. 

The key foundational factor with all objectives or tasks should be focused on the “quality” of our efforts, and equally important is the interdependency of stakeholders letting you know if “quality” is both high caliber and achieved.

“Striving for Excellence” is results-based leadership that targets gaps and creates measurable opportunities for sustainable futures; reaching out to those we serve and asking to identify areas for improvements so that we can strategically execute “quality” measurable outcomes through effective collaboration, transparency, accountability, sustainability, and communication plans.

Striving for Excellence is not defined by leaders who address opportunities with promises to act…it’s about leaders being proactively engaged with stakeholders who execute “quality processes” to benefit those they serve.

How do you strive for excellence…by addressing it or by acting on it?

Nurturing Communication

A recent strategic initiative of mine is creating an Indigenous Transitional Framework that is infused with a traditional education and training process for people who find themselves caught within the incarceration system — targets Registered Status Indians of Canada and involves numerous stakeholders/partner groups. While the front-end investment of this project in itself has numerous communication strategies within the structure it is primarily a “reactive” plan as solutions focus on the concerns already in motion. The reason for this post, which also serves a purpose in the overall framework mentioned above, is planting a seed for the “proactive” plan for youth.

One common factor for youth who fall through the cracks is the lack of nurturing communication experiences they have had throughout their lives. This can occur in all environments; however, research suggests these situations are higher for those who are involved or exposed to Foster Care Systems, Poverty, and/or Dysfunctional settings. Nurturing Communication can be seen as both a reactive and proactive solution depending on what lens you are wearing for each situation at hand. We need to press systems to challenge status quo policies/procedures and collaborate with those of influential status to create results-based initiatives.

The reality is that it is just good behavioural practice for everyone to get into the habit of doing — the article below suggests you can never start too early and I would add it is never too late — it takes a system to change a system so the question is what system are you a part of?

How To Nurture Better Communication With Children

School Start Times – Later is Best!

Eurocentric systems — there are times and places where they are appropriate; however they should not always be considered set in stone for all areas — especially in today’s constant changing society.

Public Education Systems have historically been both implemented and practiced on a static foundation of top-down, dictated curriculum, and for the purpose of this writing, set with specific start/end times of instruction (usually 8-8:30am). This may have been the ideal time slot 100 years ago but as with most “static” situations it is time to challenge the way things were and implement change that makes sense to current situational needs.

I am the first to admit that no matter what system you either follow or create there will always be room for improvement; however, when one has authority to control systemic change within acceptable reason then it should be a monitoring priority that leaders undertake to ensure change is maximized to increase success. The article below provides a seed for discussion that those of influence should collaborate in depth for both consideration and implementation — general theme of this piece is later school start times is best for student learning/success.

In the past “the man” created schedules and systems to accommodate the priorities of the system…today we (leaders) need to shift the system to accommodate the needs…and in this case it is about what we can do to better serve our student learning outcomes.

What are your thoughts around school start times in your community situation? If it’s a reasonable environment to implement change connect with your Superintendent and Board Chair — plant the seed for collaboration!

Delaying School Start Times Gives Students Better Chance of Success

I read another article today (Jan 26th) that supports later start times as well…it’s not rocket science folks…it’s just good servant leadership practice to do what’s right for student success. Wouldn’t you do it if you knew that your son or daughter would benefit from such a change?

Healthier, Fitter, and more Productive Students

Status-Quo…Don’t Accept It!

If your organization or internal departments want to see both effective and efficient growth then you must first review your current status and truly reflect on this question…Are we working in a status quo system or are we working in a progressive changing one?

There are 3 systems in business—a striving one, a sliding one, or a sinking one (this one is definitely not desired). The organization that strives breaks the status quo and consistently sees change and growth, while the organization that slides accepts current practices and will never reach the desired goals in a reasonable time…if ever.

It’s time to stretch the rules and think outside the box…strive for excellence and nothing less…change is evident when people start asking questions and this is a good thing!

Here’s an article to help with your reflection…

Why Breaking The Rules Is So Important

Challenging News–How Do You Share It?

As much as it is important to share accomplishments and positive momentum with your team a leader who values transparency, accountability, and communication will also see the importance of sharing the challenges and the not so positive news with their team as well.

If leaders focus on clarity, effectiveness, and efficiency when they communicate with their teams, and then create collaborative environments where solutions are discussed, this creates a positive opportunity to unwelcomed news.

Problems and challenges are realities in all settings. How do your leaders deal with this?

How To Effectively Break Bad News To Your Team

Listening or Hearing…There Is A Significant Difference

If you’re working in a “Service” environment at any professional capacity then you understand the foundation of both meeting and addressing needs of others. You also understand that what you learned at Post-Secondary to earn the letters behind your name is merely a brushstroke of training for actual frontline reality. To be an effective servant one factor you must reflect on is your communication skills…differentiate listening vs hearing…you were taught this but does your professional behaviour model this?

Hearing acknowledges sound of others but listening acknowledges understanding of others.

If you’re implementing a Service Improvement Plan within your organization be sure to include “listening” as one of your key measuring tools…it’s vital to the monitoring and sustaining process. 

Meaningful Connections

Personal connections with others should be considered a priority in all areas of society. Learning and experiencing this in schools are great; however the true value of personal connection is held at home with family — especially with Teens as they transition into young adulthood.

The majority of the readers here today have run the teenage trail at some capacity–either personally or as a parent. No matter what your experience is with Teens the fact is they are both directly or indirectly in our lives. 

The following article, while targeting the family unit, can also be adapted to other people who work with Teens. There are numerous areas where we can focus on improving personal connections but this article presents a good foundation to start with. 

Helping Teens To Thrive