What does a playground and leadership have in common you ask? Researchers studied the play activity of children on two differently designed playgrounds.Playground A was an open field with its play equipment spread out on the playground. Playground B had a similar configuration, with similar play ground equipment; except surrounding the playground was a clearly outlined meshed fence. If you were asked to predict the play behavior of students on these two playgrounds, what would you predict? Counter-intuitively to what we might have expected, student playing in playground A( no fences) were much more conservative in their play. Students in playground A had a tendency to play near the school building and their level of activity was less engaged and much more cautious. Conversely, students in playground B( with fences) were much more active, testing the limits of the fence and much more engaged. Interesting, isn’t it. Clearly defined boundaries result in safer environments which promote more creativity and more risk taking.
The playground metaphor traverses the landscapes in many aspects of school leadership, and leadership in general for that matter. The first starts with your leadership. What the INTEGRATION COACHING process does for you is takes that limiting internal voices that handcuff us and keeps us imprisoned in state of mediocrity. INTEGRATION is about rebuilding new fences so that you and your teams can grow personally; thus empowering those around you to grow. INTEGRATION is also about establishing fences where they do not exist. I am grateful for the testimonial I received from one of my coaching clients where he stated the INTEGRATION PROCESS ” helped me look at those erroneous beliefs I was clinging too”. He goes on to state, “I was able to let go of those beliefs that prevented my professional growth. POWERFUL!
I am intentional in having you reflect on your own leadership and to ask yourself, what fences do you manifest in your leadership. Leaders with clearly defined boundaries have staff’s that have clearly defined boundaries which results in a playground(culture) that is safe while promoting risk-taking and growth. Open organizations with clear boundaries are known to not only reduce absenteeism but substantially increase presenteeism. Supporting you in your organizational growth is another aspect of the INTEGRATION COACHING ADVANTAGE.
PLAYGROUND TAKEAWAYS FOR YOU;
- Your leadership is perfectly designed to get the results you are getting! What are the top three things you do daily to ensure your your organizational fence is clear? Suggestions for you and your leadership: Is your vision and mission clear? How do you communicate your organizational mission? Is it visible?
- How do you know that your staff are playing along the fence and not so close to the building? Who are your risk-takers who promote growth?
- What is your belief system around growth and progress. Susan Scott in her book, Radical Candor; says one of the missed opportunities in leadership is we leave our “rock-stars” alone in our organizations; thinking they will strive on their own.
- Do you have a movable fence line? Innovation and growth will only occur if the fences we build are strategically temporary. When the critical mass in your organization has grown, its time to move the fence.
- How does my leadership positively impact professional growth. Is it more important for me to be “liked” as a leader or do I do what is needed to promote growth with my colleagues.
PLAYGROUNDS AND LEADERSHIP WELLNESS
In my last article, I spoke about the INTEGRATION ADVANTAGE around our wellness. I spoke of the importance of designing our wellness not in the paradigm of work/life balance but in the INTEGRATION paradigm. This simply means designing something everyday that will contribute to your wellness. This easier said than done.
To provide you with some insights on designing your wellness, I will bring you back to the lessons learned from the playground. The struggle I hear from my coaching clients, which includes my own struggle with wellness, is that we generally have no fences when it comes to establishing wellness. Because we have no fences built around our wellness, we have a tendency to do what is comfortable, and for some, this means to continue to exist in our defeating beliefs around our wellness.
Here are the top 5 defeating beliefs : a) I am too busy b) I have too much to do C) I will start tomorrow d) I will TRY e) What’s the point at my age.
The INTEGRATION ADVANTAGE does this very thing. We build WELLNESS fences together. Building a wellness fence consciously and unconsciously designs a parameter for you to take care of yourself. It sets the boundary where you stop chasing the inadequacies others in your organization by INTEGRATING the very thing you possess- unlimited strength to lead. In a powerful testimonial by another principal I coached, she simply established a 10 minute wellness routine. She reported that her ability to make decisions more clearly was amplified by building this simple fence. She reported an increase in energy. The playground lesson she taught us is that building a wellness fence is not as complicated as it needs to be.
Giving in to the narrative that allows you to remain mediocre robs you of your true LEADERSHIP GREATNESS. (https://www.gse.harvard.edu/uk/blog/lessons-playground