Yesterday was Possip’s first retreat for our customers – PARTNER CONNECT 2021: Empowering Diversity and Equitable Decision Making.
We’ve been dreaming about this retreat for a long time. Dreaming about a world where our partners share wisdom and problem solve side-by-side. Dreaming of a world where you – educators and district administrators – have a diverse and broad network of peers you lean on and learn from any time you need.
This first retreat was just the beginning! So many people took time for development and considered the ways they can lead with wisdom and equity. The retreat was full of incredible insights, and today the Experience and Support team is sharing their favorite takeaways!
You are stressed because you care.
Dr. Modupe Akinola, Associate Professor of Management at Columbia Business School, taught us that when we deny stress, we deny something we care about. Instead, acknowledging your stress lets you think more clearly and become proactive with it. Try this exercise next time you are stressed: Ask, “Why do I care?” Keep asking “Why do I care?” until you get to the root of your care and concern. You may feel stressed out about a parent conference, and find that the root of why you care is because you want to help a student with their self-esteem. Dr. Akinola’s wisdom taught us that the information you focus on can determine your response to stress. Next time you, your staff or students are stressed, focus on why and remember – we are stressed because we care.
Try a Time Management Matrix.
Dr. Akinola walked through author Stephen Covey’s (The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People) Time Management Matrix which includes Four quadrants: 1 – urgent and important, 2 – not urgent but important, 3 – urgent but not important 4 – not urgent and not important. She encouraged us to take a few minutes to list our major responsibilities in the coming month. Then, categorize these responsibilities into the different quadrants of the matrix. As you do, consider the following questions: Which activities are the highest impact, ‘Quadrant 2’ tasks for you? What concrete steps can you take to realign your priorities around these activities? Next time you are facing too many decisions and priorities, consider what is important and urgent.
Respond to stress and negative feedback by listening.
Possip sees so much praise from parents and staff, but we know that partners also need the skills to interpret and respond to negative feedback. We asked Dave Kaval, President of the Oakland A’s, his strategy for handling hard feedback. He reminded us that listening disarms folks, saying, “Really listen… not just wait to talk and find a solution.” When he’s faced tough feedback in town halls or other venues, he takes this approach: “I just told people the truth. It made people more understanding.” We know that our partners are constantly triaging needs and making decisions. Next time you face negative feedback or an unsolvable dilemma, remember that it’s okay to not have the answer. The tone with which you listen and communicate is most important in building bridges and strengthening relationships.
Dave Kaval has a big, booming voice, and he also listens big. He said, “If you are just listening through one mode, you have a blind spot.” Dave has been intentional in integrating community voices into his ballpark building project. He found ways to create multiple methods of listening, starting with putting community members on his staff so they could advocate for their city and the people in it. Pre-pandemic, Dave strategically hosted town halls and block parties in different neighborhoods to hear diverse voices and lean into topics most relevant to those communities. He’s used polling, social channels, and more. This wisdom reminds our partners that Possip is a great way to hear from families, but it should not be the only way. What’s important is that you give people every opportunity, and many opportunities to share… and that you listen big.
Visualize your contributions.
When you are stressed, close your eyes and think of the faces of those you have helped. Naya Powell gave us the gift of a mindful leadership session. She showed us how mindful leaders express gratitude for life, others, and themselves. At Possip, we believe that praise is powerful. We love prompting families and teams to share their praise with you because you are praiseworthy. Take some time to think about how far you’ve come, and consider the ways that you have adapted, evolved, and led bravely through this time.
We will keep dreaming of building a community with you, and the ways people can find inspiration and leadership through the power of shared voices. When we close our eyes, that’s what we see.