There are many similarities between big business and running a school. The number one thing schools typically have an edge over big corporate environments is a community that is heavily invested in the organisation’s success.
It’s safe to say pretty much everyone in a school community wants the school to be successful from teachers to parents, the executive and office staff to the P&C, kids, suppliers and even the community at large. And people in each of these groups want to be involved in creating that success.
In a successful corporate environment, this is what we call Team Intelligence™ at its best.
Along with this shared goal of wanting success for their environment, school communities are also aligned in why they are there, which is usually some variation of providing the best possible learning experience for kids, that is about focussed on each child meet their potential. Having strong personal values combined with the values of the organisation drives a success culture like nothing else.
Understanding your Why or your purpose comes from an outstanding book for inspiring change for personal and organisational success called Start With Why by Simon Sinek we wrote about it and other inspiring books here. Schools are definitely on the front foot when it comes to understanding their biggest Whys like:
Equally, however, it is important that schools and businesses work on understanding the Why of their teams and clients.
Why? Because communities and workplaces are filled with human beings with needs and motivations, including needing to feel valued and understood, so they can fully participate.
How do you find out your team members’ why? Use some traditional communication skills – Ask them, listen, and practice empathy. When leaders and teams listen, really listen, using empathy to comprehend what each individual is thinking or feeling, without attempting to change or fix them or solve the problem, the person feels appreciated as a human being; they feel valued. And this is the space where trust and highly effective teams evolve.
Without empathy, people and company culture have the propensity to be self-absorbed and self-fulfilling which ultimately affects every aspect of a business from employees to suppliers and clients.
(schools are also pretty great at teaching empathy)
Team Intelligence™ is something teachers do in classrooms all day long: get teams (kids) working together collaboratively to improve performance, communication, and overall satisfaction. They draw on natural abilities, personal experience and attributes to take the whole group to the next level.
Corporates, if you want your team to be more agile, productive or innovative, take a leaf out of the school book and get to know them, get them to know each other, and tap into your Team Intelligence™. Here are two excellent articles on how to draw out the best of everyone for team and organisational success:
Something I love, love, love about schools is by nature of the service they provide they understand how important ongoing education is and that we are all on a learning curve – forever.
Have you heard of Carol Dweck? Her talk on mindsets and how to embrace the learning curve for success is quite popular with the school communities I’ve been working with.
Carol S. Dweck, Ph.D., is one of the world’s leading researchers in the field of motivation and is the Lewis and Virginia Eaton Professor of Psychology at Stanford University. She’s done extensive research on why people succeed and how to foster success from a young age.
One very strong message Dweck has based on her research is that ‘although people may differ in every which way — in their initial talents and aptitudes, interests, or temperaments — everyone can change and grow through application and experience’. The trick is to believe in the process and that requires the right mindset.
Like the learning curve, schools understand success doesn’t happen overnight. It is a process that takes time. Understanding time and using it to your favour to build upon what has already been achieved will give you the edge in whatever you choose. And making even the smallest step matters.
For a wannabe rockstar it might be playing their instrument every day without fail for 10 minutes, for a teacher teaching a child to read it might mean a year of practice every day, for a CEO wanting to change the company culture, it might take the small daily action of visiting a department to start breaking down silos.
In the book The Slight Edge, it is described as the ‘secret of time’, which is not only about how things take time to cultivate but also how time is actually on our side. It’s about how we can achieve great things if we do something consistently toward that goal.
And school teachers – and school communities totally get it.
Thanks class, I hope you found some valuable takeaways in teamwork and organisational success today. Your homework is to have a look at your organisation and work environment and write down one way you can improve:
Then act on them. Remember even the smallest steps count.