Four Ways to Extend My Digital Leadership

Digital spaces beckon me. I enjoy quickly scanning my Twitter feed for interesting tidbits. I’ve loved reading about Ontario educators’ #oneword in the Google+ community.  I blog here. Still, I wonder what more I need to do as a leader.  Jennifer Casa-Todd, digital educator, challenged the audience recently with a thought provoking question at a keynote address in our district. She asked, “How do you exemplify digital leadership?”

Leadership is the exercise of influence. It’s not about telling others what to do (much as some may dream of snapping their fingers and making it so), but rather building a culture where others take on new challenges, work to be their very best and openly share what they’ve learned.

Influencing the use of digital tools is a challenge for me, however. While I use those tools with relative ease to communicate, create and share, others do not feel comfortable doing so. So I’m not sure it’s about being an exemplar. When we exemplify something, we show how it can be done at its best. That’s important, but this kind of modelling only goes so far. Having a great model can inspire. It can also demotivate or even paralyze.

So I’m thinking more about how to extend my digital leadership to influence a culture where people may be willing to try.

  1. Using the digital spaces in our organization.  Be present in the platforms that are provided. I know what they are and how they work. Am I using them to their full advantage?
  2. Interacting on Twitter.  Retweeting. Commenting on tweets. Replying. Liking. Connecting with others.
  3. Sharing links and articles.  If it resonates, I share. If it made me think, I share. If I don’t completely agree, I share.
  4. Share the thinking in my blog.  This one is more difficult for me.  I’ve been leery of pushing myself forward, but why not? I welcome conversations about what I write here. Transparency may help others to be admit what they don’t know.

I feel comfortable in digital spaces. Can I help others feel the same way?

I Don’t Have Survey Fatigue

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Confession time: my name is Sue and I like doing surveys. Weird, right? I’m the one who actually clicks on the link in a request email and completes all those questions. Cheesy magazine questionnaires, coffee shop service feedback forms, online shopping experiences, I pretty well do them all. I even do workplace surveys. I figure I can’t complain if I’m not willing to offer my opinion or experience.

The surveys I enjoy the most are those that teach me about myself. I’ve blogged about the importance of feedback, and this kind of survey enhances my self understanding. This past year, I’ve completed the Implicit Bias Test , the Quiet Revolution Personality Test (introvert or extrovert?) and most recently, the Strengths Test and the 4Di questionnaire.

But the real question is: so what? Is there a point to all this navel gazing? Let me use the 4Di to answer.  This particular test looks at operating style not personality. It shows you how you like to learn, make decisions and collaborate at work. Our senior team completed it, and it was illuminating. Since we shared our results, it helped me to understand those I work with a lot better and to think about how to interact more effectively within the team. My “balanced red” style is different from when I took the test years ago as a principal, perhaps because I’m in a different role. “Balanced red” essentially means I like to stop and decide best. For those of you who work with me, you might recognize that “cut to the chase, make a decision and act” style. It works great sometimes, but other times it’s better to slow down to understand or to go and create, the two other operating styles the test identifies.

Having different styles on a team only makes it stronger. We can use the different styles at different times, depending on the kind of work we are doing. Do we need to make a decision? Do we need to learn and understand better? Do we need to consider creative possibilities and options? Even more, how can each of us learn to use styles that we are not comfortable with?

All this knowledge helps me be a better co-worker, leader and, to be honest, a better person.  That’s important to me.  Maybe you would consider doing a survey too?

Good Leaders Read…A Lot

Educators know that reading is power.  I’ve been reading What Connected Leaders Do Differently by Todd Whitaker, Jeff Zoul, and Jimmy Casas. It’s a solid read with an american focus, and I’ve found some great nuggets.

Here’s one: great leaders read all the time.

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Great leaders also always seek to improve. They want to learn and to get better. They’re never satisfied with good enough. Reading is part of that continuous improvement. How else can you explore new ideas and create new schema?

I read a lot, mostly at night or on the weekends. I have a paper book on the nightstand (no screens before bed!) and spending 15 – 20 minutes winding down helps me on two fronts: I can take my mind away from the whirlwind of the day and read something of interest.

What do you do to amp up your reading?