For those of us who remember being scared witless in the early 1950s by the original black-and-white movie Godzilla, we can remember a semi-sympathetic, misunderstood, lumbering monster whose radioactive breath and huge size caused it to destroy buildings and cities wherever it went. As the characterization has grown over the years, Godzilla has developed into a force for good. However, this has done nothing to diminish its unintentional destructive attributes as it moves across the countryside.
In some ways, as principals we need to be careful not to develop a “Godzilla Syndrome” as we go about our daily tasks. It is not uncommon for leaders to make casual remarks that others take as serious commands to immediately get something done. It is easy to forget the power and privilege that accompanies the principalship when the desire of some is to accommodate every whim of the leader.
One recent example is that of a principal making an innocent comment about not caring for the paint color in the lunchroom, causing the custodial staff to begin repainting. When the principal later asked why the lunchroom was being painted, he was told he had directed it. He had done nothing of the sort and never intended to.
Another example took place in a committee meeting when a principal inadvertently frowned during a faculty member’s presentation while drifting in and out of thought. This caused an unwarranted uproar in the staff who felt she had rejected their ideas out of hand.
In these cases–and countless others–principals’ comments and actions can have Godzilla effects, being taken way out of proportion. Staff members desiring to please their principals may take an aside comment or an “Mmmm? I wonder . . .” and run with it as though it was a serious directive.
To avoid destroying the carefully-constructed braided leadership that you’ve worked so hard to develop, care must be used when expressing directives to isolate the “important” from the “unimportant.” Just as Godzilla must be very careful about where he steps or breathes, so too must principals be very careful in what they say and imply. This doesn’t mean never having or expressing an opinion, but it does mean clearly telling folks when you start and end a discussion that it was just a discussion. If you only want to collectively think about something, make sure you express this at both the start and the end of the conversation. In this way, you’ll avoid stepping on issues that have little importance to you and keep the defensive forces from rallying.
Article taken from NorthStar for Principals. To learn more about this publication, please visit: www.masterteacher.com/Publication-for-Principals