The other day one of my veteran teachers came to my office to tell me that she had decided to retire. This was a bittersweet moment for me as I highly valued her commitment to the students of New Milford High School and knew I would have a huge void to fill, but was happy to see that she was at peace with her decision. During our conversation she told me how much she appreciated that fact that I never once micromanaged her, which promoted creativity in the classroom. Her comment literally made my week as I stive to avoid micromanagement of both my teachers and administrators.
It has been over a week since my teacher told me this and I still find myself reflecting on not only my leadership style, but that of other educational leaders as well. In my opinion many leaders feel pressured as a result of high-stakes testing and micromanage as a means to ensure that curriculum and instruction are solely focused on preparing students to succeed on these assessments. Others gravitate towards this leadership style because they are either unwilling or don't know how to give up control. Then there are those who want to have their hands in everything so that when an initiative or idea succeeds they can take credit for it.
Regardless of the reasons, excessive micromanagement in education tends to have a negative impact on school culture. It builds resentment
, squashes creativity, lowers moral, and tends to place educators on a path to surviving rather than innovating (see Consequences of Micromanagement
). Micromanagement should be avoided as much as possible (Avoiding Micromanagement
). Leaders should think about managing through collaboration, consensus, flexibility, and modeling in order to attain desirable changes that benefit students. With my administrative team I find myself challenging them to make decisions on their own and give them the autonomy to do so.
Is my style perfect? Not in the least bit. Will I still have to roll up my sleeves from time to time and make directives? Of course, but making directive after directive is no way to lead in the 21st Century in my opinion. One can still have their hands in a school initiative without smothering the collective group through micromanagement tactics. A shared leadership model where all voices are respected seems to have a positive impact as everyone feels part of the change process.
I am always analyzing my actions and trying to get better. Inherent in this quest is exhibiting confidence in the decisions of my staff, celebrating their ideas, respecting their opinions, and trusting the variety of ways in which they choose to teach the curriculum and grow as professionals. With the proper support, guidance, and oversight I am confident that I am on the right path to managing for success, but there is always room for improvement.