“Things may come to those who wait,
but only the things left by those who hustle.”
~ Author Unknown
Formally defined, a hustler is an aggressively enterprising person; a go-getter according to Oxford Dictionaries online. Hustlers are those individuals who can’t wait to get out of bed to make a difference in their world. We all admire these individuals, so why aren’t we focusing on producing hustlers, creating this culture within our schools, and leading by example?
The answer: a culture of agreement.
A culture of agreement is cyclical, occurs over time, and often inadvertently. Let’s define it, so we can understand how to avoid it.
- A culture of agreement begins when leadership assumes others are too busy to be bothered with requests for suggestions or makes excuses why certain individuals don’t participate in the improvement process. This starts out innocent enough. Leadership feels they are freeing up their faculty and staff (or go-getters and hustlers) to focus on more important things like student services and curricula instruction. Meanwhile, the leadership, serving as a crutch, takes on the role of developing new ideas for institutional improvement which are then rolled out.
- While the improvements are good, their development did not include the input of individuals who are most impacted by the changes. Slowly, the input of others is silenced and in place, agreement takes over.
- Eventually, improvements are not as consistently made and although there may be helpful recommendations, they are never voiced. Faculty and staff, even leadership begin to feel “it’s good enough.” Managing within a culture of agreement forces those outside the daily operations to generate new ideas and decisions which often focus on efficiency while current processes continue to lack effectiveness.
“Great leaders fan the flames of constructive discontent, never letting their people be satisfied with good enough.” ~ Steve Keating
- Phrases like “we’ll look into it” and “we don’t have time and/or resources” become common place responses by leadership to faculty and staff who eventually speak up. Finally, a school once motivated to meet the current workforce needs, has been reduced to a general feeling of complacency resulting in negatively impacting the next generations of innovators and hustlers.
This Culture of Agreement Can be Counteracted by…
- Embracing Change (being critical): Change needs to be actively sought. Schools shouldn’t exclusively examine and review their processes just to fulfill regulatory obligations. Changes should be implemented routinely as solutions to identified problems or improvements to services and curricula offered. Change shouldn’t occur just for the sake of change, but as a thoughtful reaction to correct known issues.
- Embracing New Ideas: Leadership needs to encourage all faculty and staff to participate and offer ideas and suggestions for improvement. This approach provides valuable insight since faculty and staff interact with students directly resulting in positive improvements to the school’s daily operations. It’s important for everyone to recognize that their opinion is valued.
- Embracing Failure: This is most likely many schools’ biggest fear. But in truth, embracing failures provides the greatest insight into improving curricula, providing better services, and creating relevance within the marketplace. When we take time to step back and truly examine why a specific idea did not take off as anticipated, we learn something new about the organization which leads to another opportunity for improvement. Failure is the best educational tool when used to examine what went wrong, avoid making the same mistakes, and trying again.
By counteracting a culture of agreement, schools will continue to deliver high quality academic programs and student services which sets them apart and ensures sustainability in an ever-changing educational climate. We began with a dictionary definition of hustler, but I believe this quote provides a better definition.
“Success is waking up in the morning and bounding out of bed because there’s something out there that you love to do, that you believe in, that you’re good at – something that’s bigger than you are, and you can hardly wait to get at it again.” ~ Whit Hobbs