This blog post for K-12 education leaders originated on the International Center for Leadership in Education website and has been edited for Shaped.
Leadership is the heart, coaching is the work, and listening is the key.
One of the great joys of my work as an instructional coach—first as an administrator and coach to teachers, and now as a consultant to instructional leaders—is the privilege of meeting educators all over the world who know nothing is more important than keeping students first, even if they are struggling with how best to do so. Recently in my work, I had my first meeting with an assistant superintendent who shared the latest survey data that only 53 percent of their elementary students liked school. He was crestfallen, as he and his team care deeply that students develop a love of learning.
In talking to this educator, I was reminded of an article I’d read in Harvard Business Review where Levi’s CEO Chip Bergh wrote of his effort to turn the company around. When he joined Levi’s in 2011, the company had been losing money for ten years. The brand had lost relevance in an industry with countless new competitors. Bergh realized that if he was going to devise a solution, he first needed to diagnose the problem.
Bergh understood that every employee was an invaluable resource because each knew more about the company than he did. He spent an hour with each of the top 60 executives and held town halls to ask employees questions and listen to learn from them. He also listened to consumers. The insights he gained from listening to how they perceived the brand and used the clothes were so powerful that one insight even led to the company’s new tagline.