Leadership 4 Learning - #ASK


My pondering for today is about Change Leadership. I believe if you are leading in your school, then you need to be a Change Leader. I don’t think you can be a Leader if you are not leading for change. Are you in a school that is trying to implement change and you are struggling to gain traction? Does nothing seem to be happening? Well, you are not alone.

At the NZPF conference in 2018 - Tony Wagner Keynoted, and he spoke about Change Leadership. In his talk, he referred to the 7 Habits of Change Leadership. His messaging - first and foremost - was that Leaders of change need to frame the problem or challenge to your teams and let them work to identify the problem and create ideas for a solution collectively. This connects across many other Educative Thought Leaders thoughts and messages around Leading Change. Andy Hargreaves and  Michael Fullan to name a couple. For this blog, I want to lens the idea of 'framing the problem' simply as Leaders who ask, as opposed to Managers who tell.

Change Leaders are Leaders who ask. Change Leaders are Leaders who take the time to identify and build clarity and coherence around the purpose and the process of the change that you're looking to bring about. Yes, it's time-consuming… BUT what happens when you do take the time? Well, what I have seen, through the work I do in schools around this is, teams will own the change the purpose and the process of change. From the position of ownership, you will begin to accelerate change.

Change Leaders who ask - grow great cultures in a school. Encouraging contribution and taking the time to ask leads to clarification and creates such levels of ownership in your teams that you will no longer need to wave the accountability stick at people to get action. Being a Leader who asks energises your team to act, and you will get accelerated growth in your change process.
Change Leaders who ask also create a space where communication and collaboration can flourish. When collaboration and communication are enabled to thrive amazing things happen. The communion of building something together galvanises the team, and you will see the action begin to happen due to intrinsic motivation.


There are four core ingredients essential for intrinsic motivation to have a chance of kicking in—the first three of which are identified by Pink. For starters, the work must carry with it a strong sense of purpose. Once their basic needs are met the vast majority of people want to do something of value. They want to do something meaningful. Second, people find that getting better at something important is intrinsically satisfying. Let's call that increased capacity. Third, there needs to be a degree of autonomy so that people can exercise judgment in making headway. The fourth element, which Pink mentions but does not highlight, is being well connected to others in the pursuit of significant goals—what we can call camaraderie in relation to accomplishing a purpose.


Michael Fullan, in his book Change Leaders, talks about the implementation dip.

“For a long time, we have been finding that when organisations try something new, even if there has been some pre-implementation preparation, the first few months are bumpy. How could it be otherwise? New skills and understandings have a learning curve. Once we brought this out in the open, a lot of people immediately felt better knowing that it is normal and everyone goes through it. This finding led to the realisation that we needed to focus on capacity building at this critical stage.” Fullan (2011).
I believe the length of time you stay in the dip has a direct correlation to how well you - as a Change Leader - have done the groundwork of asking and building clarity and coherence around the purpose and process of the change. Aka the degree of ownership by the team.
Often I see and hear frustration mentioned about the time it takes to work through an Asking process. Very rarely do Leaders give enough time to this process — however, when you do, a few months down the track, there is no more frustration as you begin to see the value of having taken the time. After all, there is a strong correlation between time and value. We give more time to the things that are of value. So if change initiative is of value, you must give it time.


We tend to default to tell. The default to tell is because we are trying to make change happen in such a short time frame, and we are in a such a hurry to get it done.
When you are in the space of telling and instructing your teams about and how you are going to "do" the change, you find that your change is prolonged and quite a struggle. Without ownership - you will achieve buy-in at best. If you are lucky, change will happen, but it will be fragmented, in pockets and much slower to gain momentum.

Essentially the effective change leader activates, enables, and mobilizes human and moral purpose and the skills to enact them.
— Michael Fullan (2011)


So, it is all well and good knowing that we need to be Leaders who ask, and understand all the great things that come out of asking, but how can we go about asking? Perhaps you are not sure how to get started, and that is proving to be the roadblock to getting started. Because of the tight timeline, you are just speeding things up by outlining what needs to change and how your teams are going to do that.
Over the coming months, we will explore WHAT you can do and HOW you can ask. We will case study and share examples of what this can look like and how it can be achieved across a whole staff.
We will look at tools and scaffolds you can use to support teacher thinking when you ask. We will also explore what you do with all of the information once you have asked. So my pondering today is,  if you are a leader and you're looking at change, have you asked of your teams why is it is essential to change? Have you asked what you and they could do differently in order to change?

If you haven't then I would highly recommend that you step back and take the time to ask. You never know, the team will most likely come up with some incredibly insightful ideas that will help you re-imagine what the change process is for you and your school.

Go Well....