6 R's of Summer School

While school administrators are typically not “off” from school to the same extent as teachers (there is still plenty of planning, ordering, interviewing and the like that occurs over the summer months,) the relaxed days of June, July and August present school leaders with a special opportunity that is unique to this time of year. I like to think of them as a principal’s own set of summertime “R’s.”

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Feeling the Pain - 9 Av

The walk between my Jerusalem apartment and yeshiva, a walk that I took multiple times a day, included a series of steps. Little of consequence ever happened to me on those steps, or anywhere else on the path for that matter.

But this night was different, at least it would be. It was the night of Tisha B’Av (9 Av,) and I, like hundreds of others, had gone to hear the mournful recitation of Eicha (Lamentations) on the yeshiva’s hallowed floors, just a stone’s throw from where the harrowing scenes of annihilation and destruction had occurred on two separate occasions (first during the Babylonian period and then at the hands of Titus and the Romans.) Together with everyone else in the yeshiva, I had recited the first set of kinnos (dirges, elegies), and tried my best to understand their powerful message. But, as I had in years past, I failed to make a deeper connection, one that evoked any form of emotive response. Despite four years of study in Israel and three Tisha B’Av experiences in the Holy Land, I remained sufficiently disconnected from the day’s tragic, somber history as to not shed even a single tear.

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Deepening the Workplace Bond

One way for leaders to develop a strong bond with their people is to roll up their sleeves and get to work. Not just their own work, but the work of their direct reports, as well as their reports’ reports. Take time to sit in various offices and seats within the organization and seek to develop new skills and make connections on different levels. Ask about existing challenges within the company and develop empathy for those who are tasked to address them regularly. Brainstorm with staff about how best to address these issues to optimize performance. By bringing yourself down to your people, you will gain their admiration as someone who really seeks to know their situations and improve them.

Another, more sustainable approach to bonding with employees is to actively connect with them on a regular basis. Hewlett Packard (HP) founders William Hewlett and David Packard used a strategy that has become known as MBWA, or Management By Wandering Around. As its name implies, MBWA requires regular walking throughout the workplace. It offers many benefits to leaders and their employees

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