Leadership Center

Running Music

By Wendy Flaherty posted 06-01-2020 13:49


Strong leaders tend to be driven by getting results. That drive can result in many office hours; however, to be an effective leader, learning how to maintain balance is key. As we enter into the second 30 day extension of the COVID 19 shelter in place order, I believe the best way to be a good leader is to prioritize self-care.

One of the ways I do this is by running. Running allows me to pause for a moment, take care of my body, eliminate stress and think more clearly. The lyrics from music often help me think through decisions. Here is a playlist that may help you as you work through decisions in your leadership position.

The first songs on my playlist is Drive by Incubus:

Given the current situation with COVID-19 the lyrics from this song resonate;

“Sometimes, I feel the fear of uncertainty stinging clear
And I can’t help but ask myself how much I’ll let the fear
Take the wheel and steer”

 The song goes on to encourage leaning into that fear or taking the wheel and driving your own story.  School business changes daily. You may have scheduled time to work on the budget but instead were brought into a safety concern that takes up the entire day. We have to be flexible as school leaders. While flexibility is important, insuring you are not getting pulled in too many directions or compromising your values is equally important. I tend to be a people-pleaser, but in my position, there are many times I need to say “no” or disagree with the team. In order to help make my decisions I ask myself two questions; 1) Is this decision good for kids and 2) is this the best use of this money. Are you listening to too many people, or trying to please too many people when you know in your gut you have the best solution? We all have an internal instinct telling us the best decision or solution, listen to that voice.  Take the wheel and drive.

Next is Break It Down by Tears for Fears: 

“When it’s all mixed up
better break it down…”

The Last Dance documentary was released early to take advantage of viewership during the coronavirus quarantine. This documentary shows how different players interacted with Michael Jordan. The program shows Michael’s fierce competitive drive that made the Bulls a championship team. Becoming a championship team did not happen automatically, it happened by breaking down the team to make it stronger. For Michael, that meant focusing on the highest priority, which was winning. Not everyone on the team had the same drive as Michael, he had to figure out the strengths of each teammate and how he could use those strengths to create that championship team. How do you breakdown the tasks in your department? How do you determine the highest priorities and get them done? How does your business office or executive team work together to ensure you succeed for kids?

As I think of how life in our business offices has changed in the last 60 days, I am amazed. We’ve had to social distance and determine who will be in the office on specific days. We’ve had to be flexible communicating through emails, ZOOM meetings and Microsoft chats. We’ve had to break down business office tasks and work to get them done efficiently in a remote setting. How are you breaking it down?

Then it’s Up & Up by Cold Play:

“…we are going to get it together I know
going to get it together and flow
going to get it together and go
……don’t ever give up”

One of the best qualities of a strong leader is positivity. Even in tough times, finding the positive side of the situation and bringing fun into the workplace makes the environment better. The other day, our superintendent and I were both in the office, which has not happened in a couple weeks due to the stay at home order since we have been rotating who goes into the office. Over the past few weeks things had been pretty serious, focused on getting tasks done; however, on this day, we were joking like pre-coronavirus. We both realized how nice it was to be “normal” and bring that humor back into work. How do you lift your staff up? What are you are doing to create a positive work environment? Up & Up!

So as I round the corner on my run home I have a couple more songs, maybe a little David Bowie or U2 and I have finished my run. I have a clearer head to tackle the day in the life of a school business official. What music are you listening to?

By Wendy Flaherty
Dir./Operations & Treasurer
Keeneyville Elem. SD 20

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