Leadership 4 Learning - #ASK - Why READY is important - WHY asking is important

Many of the schools I work with are looking to make a change around the culture of their appraisal system. They are working with an old system that has the traditional culture of overwhelm, judgement and is for many teachers in the school, like a noose around their neck.

So, how then do we shift the culture of appraisal, so it becomes centred around professional learning and growth? Lensed around learning in all aspects.

How? - We work together to design an aspirational vision. At one school in particular, as we unpacked and worked together through a process of collaborative storytelling, ideation and thematic analysis we connected with the essence of what it is to learn and grow as a professional. We were able to take that collaborative thought of all parts of the whole and bring it together to discover and to identify what appraisal can be when it is at its best. We arrived at a statement that went something like this. A statement of WHY for the school.

At our school we want appraisal to be:

  • About teacher growth.

  • About identifying areas for growth

  • About shared learning for all

  • About making connections for all

  • About engagement for all.

It is worth noting at this point. The statement needs to be simple and concise for it to be workable by the masses. 
This particular piece of work has now become the north star, the compass bearing for all work we do together around appraisal as we work to build the WHAT and the HOW.

Now, what is beautiful about this is that the teachers in the school built this together, they collaborated and shared their stories of what amazing learning looks like to capture what it needs to be.
The process we went through to enable such thinking is a process of Discover - what great learning is - through story. Dream what it can be at its best, and what things enabled it to be its best and Design. Design of what it will be.

The whole process captivated teachers intrinsic motivation and ownership of appraisal for future growth.

As children, we are driven by our inner desires to learn, to discover and to help others. But as we grow, we are programmed by our society to need extrinsic motivations: if we take out the trash, study hard and work tirelessly, we will be rewarded with friendly praise, high grades and good paychecks. Slowly, we lose more and more of our intrinsic motivation. On the path towards adulthood, our natural dedication decreases with age.

However, teachers who are given a voice in the decision-making of their school become more intrinsically motivated. More importantly, if it is made clear how important each individual’s contribution is for the performance of the whole school, each person feels their actions to be meaningful, and hence they become more committed. - Daniel Pink - Drive

Now, when intrinsic motivation is absent, and leaders are using a TELL lens with carrot-and-stick incentives things fall flat.
After examining evidence from several studies, Pink summarises the findings as to what a tell culture can do when you are looking at a change in a system.

  • It can extinguish intrinsic motivation.

  • It can diminish performance. 

  • It can crush creativity. 

  • It can foster short-term thinking. 

So, we know what doesn't work. But the mere act of inviting people to engage in activities for their intrinsic satisfaction will not, by itself, do the trick either. 
Therefore the question becomes under what conditions will intrinsic motivation flourish? There are four core ingredients essential for intrinsic motivation to have a chance of kicking in as identified by Pink in his book Drive (2012)

  • Purpose - of value and meaningful

  • Increased capacity

  • Degree of Autonomy

  • Camaraderie

This is the essence of the change leader: the capacity to generate energy and passion in others through action.
— -Michael Fullan (2011)

So through Dig, Do and Decide together - i.e. Asking - the process predictably generates intrinsic commitment and collective identity, both of which are powerful steering and sustaining forces. 

Leaders can still have (and should have) “aspirational visions,” but they need to pursue them indirectly, looking for opportunities to activate and align the needs of individuals and the group. Forcing the process will be counterproductive. Engaging with it as mentioned above will produce deeper and more lasting results.

Go Well....



Fullan, M. (2011). Change Leader. Wiley. Kindle Edition. 

Pink, D. (2009). Drive: The surprising truth about what motivates us. New York: Riverhead Books.



Fullan, M. (2011). Change Leader: learning to do what matters most. Wiley. Kindle Edition. 


Wagner, T. et al. (2006). Change Leadership: A Practical Guide to Transforming Our Schools. Wiley. Ca

The power of ask instead of tell. - To Create Change, Leadership Is More Important Than Authority - Greg Satell