On Being Principal for a Day…and Being Flexible and Open in Your Thinking

0  Having the opportunity to serve as Principal for a Day at Lincoln Park High School was a fantastic learning experience.

On Tuesday, over 1600 corporate, community and civic leaders across the city of Chicago served as PFADs in the 600 Chicago Public Schools in the morning. That afternoon, Mayor Richard M. Daley hosted a luncheon at the Chicago Hilton and Towers for all the participants and principals.

21634   The goal of Principal for a Day [PFAD] is that all PFADs will continue to engage themselves, their companies, organizations or associations in continued involvement and support throughout the year at their assigned school. I was honored to be joined by fellow principals such as Charlie Trotter, two top-notch doctors from Northwestern Memorial Hospital, and a long-time member of the Illinois Attorney General’s office.

What I loved most about the day was being surrounded by the openness and eagerness of the teens. Possibilities seemed endless with them. So here is the thousand dollar question: why does some of this openness and eagerness seem to disappear as we ‘grow up’? We adults have the tendency to get into ruts of thinking and doing the same. I just read in a leadership book that said a rut is awfully close to a grave if you continue to stay in it!

Inflexible minds make organizational change quite difficult. I am fortunate to have a business sponsor right now who is an open-minded thinker and is flexible in his perspective. Even though he has been working at this global financial institution for twenty-five years, he is able to stop and reflect on the ideas I bring to him to consider to further the transformation we are leading.

Can this flexibility in thinking be learned? I think so, but for some people it may take awhile for them to UNLEARN old assumptions first. There are techniques for doing this, and it is up to the change leaders and agents to determine which techniques work best for each person.

Click here to learn more on what the CEO of the Chicago Public School system as to say on his leadership lessons learned on school playgrounds that he has carried with him throughout his illustrious career.

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Sandra Schwan

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