LEADERSHIP - Putting Vision into Action
It has been said that there is something unique to our profession that allows all of us to enjoy and experience the annual ritual of beginning anew each and every school year. I would like to take this opportunity to wish you, your staff and students a successful school year.
As the new President of NJASA, I have been charged with setting a theme for the 2014-15 school year. I did what most experienced superintendent would do when faced with a daunting challenge; I reached out to fellow superintendents. While discussing possible themes with colleagues, it was apparent to me that paraphrasing Warren Bennis, Leadership - Putting Vision into Action best described our role. Superintendents are very different than the many theorists, reformers, activists, bureaucrats who are skilled at identifying problems. Superintendents are leaders that accept challenges, develop actionable plans, and dedicate resources for pre-implementation training within restricted budget cycles while ensuring the difficult phase of implementation is accomplished.
I have had the good fortune to be a New Jersey Superintendent for 15 years. During this time, I’ve observed numerous Chief School Administrators foster a collaborative environment with stakeholders to develop a shared vision. That is not the impressive part. Many of our colleagues have incorporated the surfeit of disconnected mandates with the latest procedural initiatives while balancing both internal and external political pressures to operationalize the district vision. This is no small feat.
According to the French proverb, “the more things change the more they stay the same”. Our leadership skills are once again being tested! We are asked to navigate the plethora of new statutes, codes, assessments, procedures etc. while creating an actionable vision that benefits our students within the parameters of measurable outcomes.
I am confident that we as leaders will continue to implement our action plans and succeed as practitioners who make a difference. The myriad of complex responsibilities required of Chief School Administrators continues to enhance our skill set. Simply stated, we have made the job look easy within organized, systemic, and cohesive structures. Of course, this just adds a lack of appreciation for our work.
Everyone seems to have a vision for improving our schools, however, only you, my colleagues grasp the intricacies of putting a Vision into Action.