Kentucky School Advocate
By Allen Kennedy
KSBA’s major training events – among them, the just-ended Summer Leadership Institute – offer professional development in myriad topics, but the overarching goal always is to help board members be better leaders as part of their team and on behalf of their districts.
What is a team? Based on a theory by the late organizational psychologist Elliott Jaques, a team is a group of people, including a leader, with a common purpose who must interact with each other in order to complete their task. Does that sound like a school board? This is the first of two columns in the Kentucky School Advocate on Team Leadership and Membership, relying on what I learned in 40 years of “working together” in industry.
In his 1997 book, Requisite Organization, Jaques was focused on two primary groups, team leaders and team members. This column shares his concept on “The eight points of leading a team” and “Common leadership traps.” I like to refer to this as “a leadership/tasking model.” One can use these principles and accomplish any task as a team or individually, and at home, work or school.
While I believe each of the principles is self-explanatory, No. 5 on the first chart, Assign tasks using QQRT (quality, quantity, resources and time), bears a closer look. Depending on the scope of the task, one must look at the quality of the result. Is it a temporary measure or is it an issue needing special action? The second Q, quantity, asks how much or how many are needed, while resources focuses on whether one has adequate resources available, i.e., the parts/supplies to complete the task, The last letter stands for time, asking within what time frame the result is needed. As you can see, these four letters can make a significant difference in determining the who, what, when and where one will be able to successfully complete a task.
This is a great model for drilling down into a complex issue and coming up with a workable plan, as the Hancock County board did in planning a $1 million-plus project with three separate components. Starting with context, we asked why we needed to do this, then determined critical issues by seeking input from staff and school personnel. That led to the QQRT portion, where budget, workmanship, building codes and installation time entered the decision-making.
I always kid people that it doesn’t matter whether it’s a team or an individual task, this model works the same – from a school construction project to baking a cake to planning a school field trip to Washington, D.C. I hope this gives you some ideas for tackling the issues you deal with as you work to help the students of your district. g
— Kennedy is a member of the Hancock County Board of Education
The eight points of leading a team:
1. Explain the context and purpose
2. Identify the critical issues
3. Encourage contributions
4. Make a decision
5. Assign tasks using QQRT
6. Monitor progress
7. Coach team members
8. Review the activity
Common leadership traps:
1. Not seeing the problem from the members’ point of view
2. Getting overly involved in the action
3. Feeling you have to have the answer
4. Being the technical expert
5. Ignoring the social issues
6. Becoming fixed on one issue
7. Not willing to stand out in a crowd