Monthly Archives: February 2013

4 Caution Lights On Your Leadership Journey

Zig Ziglar’s “wheel of life” is often referred to by leadership coaches, like Chris Locurto, because it represents a good visual of the competing interests in each of our lives.

balance-wheel

The thought goes, when the areas of life are held in good balance, the ride is much smoother. When one area of life is off-balance, we experience a flat tire.

Although it is safe to say that none of us has a perfectly balanced life, I almost made a fatal assumption in my early years of school leadership by thinking if I worked harder, I would accomplish more.

I believed managing the needs of students, teachers, staff, parents, etc. required every second of school as well as hours before and after. As a result, I consistently worked through lunches or skipped dinners to keep up with the demands.

Eventually, this pace led to burn-out. And a leader who burns out is a miserable leader…and eventually so are those around him or her.

Do you often feel driven to work harder and harder to reach your goals? Here are some caution-lights I try to keep in mind on my journey:

1. Recognize the The Danger-Signs of Workaholism
As I discovered the havoc over-work was creating in my life, my wife told me one day, “The kids and I have resigned ourselves to having a weekend husband and father. And even then, you are pretty much a shell of the man you were before.”

This was a wake-up call for me to revisit my priorities. Did I want to grow older and find myself with a successful career only to find my wife and children no longer knew me? As I worked harder and harder at my school, I was growing weaker in other areas of my life. I decided to focus my energies on each area of my life, not just work.

2. Pay Attention to the Sign Posts of Good Health
Sometimes we think we don’t have time for healthier habits. But when I committed to using my early mornings hours for exercise, reading and spiritual growth, this became a time to recharge my mental batteries and refill my soul.

During the work day, I started making myself stop for at least thirty minutes to eat lunch away from my desk or other to-do’s, ideally with members of our leadership team just to chat or talk about our day.

With the accountability of a colleague at school, I set a reasonable time to leave school each day. Or if I had to stay for an evening event, I found something to do not related to work in the time between.

I prioritized time with my family, even squeezing in mealtimes between games or activities with no phone or electronic devices allowed to interrupt it.

All of these small steps began to add much more meaning to my day, more time with my family, and a better attitude about working.

3. Personal Growth and Leadership Growth are not Separate Paths
When you begin to prioritize the other important areas of life, ironically, you will find you are more effective in your performance at school.

When I invest in my personal growth as well as family time, I find I am more creative and optimistic at work. I found myself enjoying my colleagues more because of scheduled down-times around lunches.

For instance, when our leadership team meets regularly around lunch, we inevitably talk more deeply or laugh more often. As a result, cooperative goal-setting and action planning became more realistic when we take time to connect, not just react to the needs around us.

4. Rely on the Guidance of Your Personal Compass
For me, my faith encourages me that if my greatest satisfaction is found in God, I also find my greatest satisfaction in life. This reminds me to keep the “hub” of my wheel of life centered correctly.

Keep your personal compass tuned to “true north” and the journey is much easier to navigate.

Conclusion:
I still have days that wipe me out and seasons where life feels very unbalanced. But I have found my satisfaction with my work is intricately tied to my satisfaction in the other important areas of my life.

If like me, you find yourself overwhelmed, take time to focus on the more meaningful parts of your life. You will be surprised how it encourages a more satisfying life as well as a more satisfying leadership journey.

Now It’s Your Turn: What are some ways you have learned to balance work and down-time? What practical steps can you take immediately to keep from burning out in your current position? Share with the rest of us!

Subscribe For Free EBook
Have you subscribed to receive weekly posts from WilliamDParker.com? Visit here for information on how you can sign up and receive my free e-book, Making High School Work For You!

You can also connect with me through my Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, or GooglePlus accounts.

Purpose Motivated Leadership

Recently, I was listening to an EntreLeadership Podcast interview of Lisa Earle McLeod discussing her book Selling With Noble Purpose. Clear-Sense-Of-Purpose

The premise of the conversation was that in corporations, the sales reps who make up the top 2% of highest achievers share a surprising similarity: without exception, each one was motivated more by purpose than profit.

And guess what? In the process, they profited more!

I find the same is true in school. Continue reading

Tips on Better Managing Requests

My first year as a school administrator, I was convinced I would not repeat some of the frustrating habits of my former leaders.
timemanagement
Specifically, I wanted to be a leader who consistently followed through on requests from teachers. What I didn’t anticipate was how many requests I would receive in a day. So, here are some suggestions on how to prioritize so many competing demands:

1. Give up Your ‘Savior’Complex
Don’t make the mistake of thinking you can find the solution to every problem in your building. During my first year, in a typical hour as I walked through hallways and classrooms, I would often be stopped two or three times with requests. I would write down each request on a legal pad I carried with me. By the end of the day, I had pages of notes. Then I would sit down that evening or the next morning to follow-up on them.

Bad idea.

What I discovered was that my list grew every day. I found myself spending hours of work just on follow-up requests. What I didn’t know then was how poorly I was modeling leadership for my teachers. As a leader, I still needed to be consistent in communicating back to my teachers and staff.

But my system of was not helping me prioritize nor was I teaching them how to become problem solvers.

I was also constantly “putting out fires” instead of focusing on goals for what was most important for our school. Something had to change, and it began when I admitted I was not the end-all for every problem.

2. If It’s Important, Have Them Write It Down
It took me a long time to learn, but eventually I decided on more practical steps.

First, I stopped carrying a legal pad. When a team member stopped me with a concern or request, I would first decide if this was something I could coach them to handle on their own. I could tell them who to see for resources or how to talk to a parent about a struggling student, etc.

Sometimes I needed to provide immediate follow-up or support. If that was the case, I needed to help find a solution; that’s my responsibility.

If it was something that might take further consideration and was not an immediate need, I would say, “Thank you for letting me know that. If that is important to you, please follow up to me with an email about it.”

Sometimes just listening to others is what they really want. In my case, I coach my teammates to email me if the situation or issue is still a priority to them after our conversation. On the one, hand we often find solutions in the moment. On the other hand, I found my to-do list of follow-ups decreasing through these steps.

3. Learn To Teach Others How to Find Their Own Solutions
It is difficult to overemphasize the importance of delegation. Here are a couple of analogies I have heard about learning to delegate or coach other to find their own soluations:

One, a coach never puts on the helmet and pads to jump in the game for his players. He coaches them. School leaders must do the same; it is not our job to jump into every crisis and create a solution; it is more important to train and coach your team members into becoming problem solvers.

Another analogy is one I have heard from Dave Ramsey called the “monkey on the shoulder” practice. When someone comes to you with a problem that jumps off his/her shoulders onto yours, expect the person to become a part of the solution; make sure he takes his monkey with him when he leaves.

Conclusion:
As a high school principal, I find I am having to learn many of these lessons again and again. Prioritizing time and requests is ultimately about creating a school climate where students are served well. If we are unable to manage our time, students will ultimately be the ones who suffer the consequences. So, don’t forget to give up your savior complex, encourage others to write down their requests, and learn to help others find their own solutions where possible. In the end, your teachers and students will reap the benefits.

Questions:
What are some ways you have learned to manage time or requests? Do you have a favorite resource for time management? Share yours with the rest of us!

Sign-Up For Free Updates and Ebook

When you enter your email address below, you will automatically receive my newest posts and a free Ebook, 8 Hats: Essential Roles for School Leaders. Let’s keep learning together!

Subscribe for free weekly updates and receive free e-book!

* indicates required




Principal Matters–The Book!

Principal Matters (Final) 3D
School leaders are very busy, so each of the twenty-four chapters is designed as a quick-read and followed with take-action questions for follow-up or reflection. If you want practical ideas on understanding your purpose, managing school teams, dealing with challenges, and leading with courage, action, motivation, and teamwork, go HERE to pick up a copy for you or your team.

Welcome to Principal Matters

Thanks for taking time to visit Principal Matters, where you can find resources, insights, and inspiration for school leadership!

cropped-cropped-Will-Parker-9916-1.jpg
William D. Parker Bio
Will is currently the principal of Skiatook High School, near Tulsa, Oklahoma, U.S.A. He grew up a farm boy from west Tennessee who never thought he would go to college. But he loved to learn and eventually found himself in Oklahoma with a degree in hand and classrooms full of students who taught him more about teaching (and life) than he ever expected.

He has been an educator for twenty years, first as a high school English teacher, then as a high school assistant principal, and now as a high school principal. He earned his Bachelor’s in English Education from Oral Roberts University and his Masters of Education from NorthEastern State University. He was named Broken Arrow’s South Intermediate High School Teacher of the Year in 1998. And in 2012, was named the Oklahoma Assistant Principal of the Year.

On the home front, he has been happily married for twenty years to Missy. They are the proud parents of four children: three girls and one boy. You can read his blog, Principal Matters, where his goal is to inspire innovative ideas for school leaders. He is also a contributing writer for ConnectedPrincipals.com.

In 2014, Will released his first book, Principal Matters: The Motivation, Courage, and Action Needed For School Leadership. George Couros describes him by saying: “Will is a great storyteller, and his use of these connections makes his book easy to read but also memorable. His focus on ‘purpose’–going beyond what you do in school–is something that all leaders should really consider if they are going to make a difference in both their professional and personal lives.”

William speaks regularly at presentations, workshops, and conferences. You can find free resources and posts for school leaders at his website: williamdparker.com, where he posts weekly updates to help you grow in your effectiveness.

Speaking:
booksigning
Interested in having William speak to your organization, staff, or leadership team? He loves to encourage school leaders, aspiring school leaders or student groups with innovative ideas on leadership development. Check out his Keynote Presentation Highlight Doc.

Popular Previous Conferences/Presentations/Awards:

January 2016, OAESP Mid-Winter Conference, Midwest City, Oklahoma: Closing Keynote Speaker.

December 2015, Cleveland High School Student Council, Cleveland, Oklahoma: Essential Lessons for Student Leaders Guest Speaker.

December 2015, Platt College Mid-Year Graduation Ceremony, Tulsa, Oklahoma: Guest Speaker.

November 2015, Glenpool Public Schools Administrative Team & Curriculum Development Committee, Guest Speaker.

November 2015, Tulsa Community College K-12 Center, Tulsa, Oklahoma: Understanding Your Purpose in School Leadership Presentation.

October 2015, OASSP Fall Conference, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma: Closing Keynote Presentation.

September 2015, Eighth Floor Advisory Council Luncheon, Tulsa Technology Center, Tulsa, Oklahoma: Guest Speaker.

September 2015, Oklahoma Wesleyan University, Bartlesville, Oklahoma: School of Education: Guest Presenter.

August 2015, OSSBA President’s Dinner, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma: Guest Speaker.

June 2015, CCOSA Summer Conference, Edmond, Oklahoma: Break-out Session on release of new book Principal Matters.

May 2015, Tulsa Community College K-12, Tulsa, Oklahoma: Understanding Your Purpose in School Leadership Presentation.

March & April 2015, CCOSA Aspiring Principals Workshop I & II, Tulsa Technology Center, Tulsa Oklahoma: Workshop for new or aspiring assistant principals or principals.

January 2015, Tulsa Community College K-12, Tulsa, Oklahoma: Helping Schools Manage Grief Presentation.

March & April 2014 CCOSA Aspiring Principals Workshop I & II, Tulsa Technology Center, Tulsa Oklahoma: Guest Presenter.

October & November 2013, CCOSA Aspiring Principals Workshop I & II, Tulsa Technology Center, Tulsa Oklahoma: Guest Presenter.

June 2012, CCOSA Summer Conference, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma: Mentor 180 Presentation, Strategies for Reaching At-Risk Students. Guest Presenter.

December 2013, Principal Leadership Graduate Education, Northeastern State University, Broken Arrow, Oklahoma: Guest Speaker.

October & November 2012, CCOSA Aspiring Principals Workshop I & II, Tulsa Technology Center, Tulsa Oklahoma: Guest Presenter.

April 2012, NASSP Assistant Principal of the Year Reception and Awards Ceremony, Washington, D.C.: Recipient of the Oklahoma Assistant Principal of the Year Award.

willpresenting

8 Hats For Highly Effective Principals: An introduction to Will’s book, Principal Matters, this presentation has been described by participants as motivating, inspiring, and instructive. Learn the key responsibilities every school leader must embrace for highly effective leadership. Explore strategies for dealing with difficult people, setting key responsibility areas for your staff, and communicating effectively with stakeholders. Find out how to turn patrons and parents into raving fans of what’s happening at your school!

image

Conference Speaking/Presentations

Aspiring Principal Workshops: In conjunction with principal association, CCOSA, William has presented frequently on ways for emerging leaders to recognize the most important elements of school leadership, and how to prepare themselves for the road ahead by asking the right questions and choosing practical strategies for school management.

How School Leaders Can Effectively Manage Crisis and Grief: This presentation comes from the unfortunate hands-on experiences Will’s schools have experienced with crisis and grief connected to student tragedy. Communicating with stakeholders, dealing with media inquiries, and preparing staff for walking through the difficulties of school grief are some of the topics explored with communication and media release samples provided.

clevelandphoto

Understanding Your Purpose & Goal Setting For Success: This is an intensive, hands-on, question/answer based workshop for those who want to really dig deep into the root issues surrounding their motivations for leadership. It is also a guided time for exploration, discussion, and consultation on goal-setting, self-improvement, and strategy discussion on how to lead while avoiding burnout.

You can contact William via email: Williamdp {at} gmail {dot} com for more information!

Principal Matters–The Book!
Principal Matters (Final) 3D
School leaders are very busy, so each of the twenty-four chapters is designed as a quick-read and followed with take-action questions for follow-up or reflection. If you want practical ideas on understanding your purpose, managing school teams, dealing with challenges, and leading with courage, action, motivation, and teamwork, go HERE to pick up a copy for you or your team.

Will’s Interviews With Great Leaders:
Be sure to check out all Will’s guest interviews from leaders in the field of education as well as leaders within their own fields who are inspiring.

Will’s Book Recs:
Looking for an inspiring read? Check out Will’s list of recommended books, many of them hand picked by the great guest leaders he has interviewed.

Most Popular Posts/Topics:
Here are some of William’s most popular posts:
Motivation by Wonder and Purpose
Interview with Ruby Payne
7 Ways To Show Appreciation for Teachers
6 Tips For Dealing With Difficult People
10 Tips For Interviewing For An Education Position
10 Lessons On Leadership from Seabiscuit
Keeping Perspective During Difficulties
Interview with Jon Gordon
8 Ways to Discipline with Dignity
7 ‘First Days of School’ Questions
Part 1: Lessons From The Rise of Theodore Roosevelt
Part 2: Lessons From The Rise of Theodore Roosevelt
Learning from Other People’s Expertise
10 Ways To Communicate About Your School
Interview with Daniel Wong
Lesson from a Cross-Walk Guard

Some More Personal Posts:
Occasionally, Will posts something more personal than professional:
Spring Time Memories
That’s What We Do In Oklahoma
Thoughts on My Father
Why Vacation is Important
4 Caution-Lights For School Leaders
Purpose Motivated Leadership
Planting, Growing, Flourishing

More About William D. Parker
From Will: I grew up as a farm boy from west Tennessee who never thought he would go to college. But I love to learn, and eventually I found myself in Oklahoma with a degree in hand and classrooms full of students who taught me more about teaching (and life) than I ever expected. After more than a decade in school administration, I am passionate about school leadership development!

On the home front, my wife and I have been happily married for twenty years and are the proud parents of four children: three girls and one boy.

Sign-Up For Free Updates and Ebook

When you enter your email address below, you will automatically receive my newest posts and a free Ebook, 8 Hats: Essential Roles for School Leaders. Let’s keep learning together!

Sign-Up For Free Updates and Ebook

When you enter your email address below, you will automatically receive my newest posts and a free Ebook, 8 Hats: Essential Roles for School Leaders. Let’s keep learning together!

Subscribe for free weekly updates and receive free e-book!

* indicates required




Principal Matters–The Book!

Principal Matters (Final) 3D
School leaders are very busy, so each of the twenty-four chapters is designed as a quick-read and followed with take-action questions for follow-up or reflection. If you want practical ideas on understanding your purpose, managing school teams, dealing with challenges, and leading with courage, action, motivation, and teamwork, go HERE to pick up a copy for you or your team.
You can also connect through Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, or GooglePlus accounts.