Apr 17

Do You Have the Insatiable Desire to “Control?”

There are school leaders who guide their staff by using  and being a positive example of effective leadership; other administrators use group acceptance followed by group production.  Yet there are other types of leaders who want to have things done his/her way–this is the control freak.  While this leadership style seems more prevelant in a central office and if you work with/for someone who displays this personality type, you know how difficult your position can be on a regular basis.  School leaders using this trait create uncomfortable environments that can cause staff members to look for transfers to other school divisions in order to work in a positive and flexible environment.

In a recent entry in Smart Bolgs on Leadership, author Mary Jo Asmus writes about the control phenomenom in leaders as part of her blog “The insatiable desire to control” ( http://smartblogs.com/leadership/2014/04/16/the-insatiable-desire-to-control/?utm_source=brief ).  While she writes from a business perspective, her comments are applicable and recognizable for leaders in education as well.  She offers four signs that identify individuals who “must” be in control at all times. As you review these descriptions, you may recognize colleagues in your school division or in your central office.  Building administrators should know that while being in charge means keeping control of the educational program, the physical plant and most importantly, the safety of the students and staff, one also must be careful to promote a positive and caring environment.

To see if you need to examine your leadership traits with respect to being “in charge,” Ms Asmus lists four signs that help identify individuals who “must” be in control at all times:

Perfectionism:  This is found in what you do and what you expect others to do in their position.  Things must be done in your way and flexibility is not an acceptable attribute.

Conformance: All of your staff must do things exactly in the same way, regardless of circumstances.  Considering the variety of educactional needs and learning styles, this “sign” is not appropriate in a school.  In a school, conformance is desirable when following safety procedures as everyone needs to do as proscribed. Conformance to guidelines for grades to be due/reports and needed forms also require conformity. Flexibility elsewhere can be the guideline.

Silence:  If you decide to ask your staff for recommendations or suggestions for change and you receive none, then the silence is deafening. Perhaps their attitude would be “why bother” if they know that new ideas and possible changes will not be coming forth.

Churn:  Teachers and other school staff like to work in a positive and nuturing environment.  While many will continue to work in a negative environment for a variety of reasons, others will transfer to other schools or school divisions to avoid a negative environment.  This may cause your stomach to “churn” if good teachers leave from what they percieve environment and you recieve a special invitation to come to the central office to discuss your school “atmosphere.”