The quote to contemplate: "Anytime as a leader you choose to not share something with someone that would improve their professional performance you are choosing yourself over them. You are choosing your own comfort over their growth. This is not leadership – this is the absence of leadership. Remember this – if the truth hurts – it probably should."
- PJ Caposey (Read the whole article at The Bitter Truth)
I am growing to appreciate the bitter truth. I'm not sure I could tell you when the change transpired, as it has happened very slowly over time. By nature, I'm not one for confrontation - not because I don't believe in it, but because I just shy away from it. Furthermore, I've always bought into the lie that filling someone with affirmation about what they do right while avoiding what they don't do well will help to "curb" behaviors, simply by increasing the desired behaviors. And for years I pretended that was actually true, primarily because I just didn't like the discomfort of speaking the bitter truth and I've never liked the idea of hurting anyone's feelings. Until one day someone said to me, "The definition of insanity is doing the same thing and expecting a different result."
Through a series of experiences and strong examples/leaders, I have come to learn Caposey's words are quite true. In fact, I have always had a sense of speaking the truth to kids. Instinctively as a teacher I offer kids feedback and expect growth because I care enough about them. I want them to learn, I want them to achieve their goals, and I manage to provide them with honest and productive feedback. I have a pile of evidence to support that constructive feedback, firm boundaries and speaking the truth has worked with kids, it accomplishes the goal. So, if it comes so naturally as a teacher of students, why do I struggle to do the same as a leader of peers? For quite some time I have been thinking about and continue to think about this question.
I do believe I am growing in my ability to speak the truth my peers. In fact, I know I am. Very few experiences in life will shape you quite as much as being a new member in an already established community of educators in a very small town. When subject to judgement and unwarranted unkindness just based on the perceptions of others, it becomes a huge life lesson in holding your own and speaking the truth. As that kind of experience transfers into the leadership setting, I will go forward keeping the characteristics of strength and honesty at the helm knowing that progress doesn't happen without courage, and also knowing that the time has come to care about leaders the way I care about kids. Only in facing and speaking the bitter truth as a leader will the greatest number of students be impacted - and they are worth it.