During orientation for the Ed.D. in Leadership program, we got our first look at how we would be learning and working together as a cohort. In small groups, we worked to address a scenario in which we were to prioritize initiatives that would benefit both Higher Education and k-12 Education systems. I thought it fitting that we dive right into such a common occurrence scenario. We, as leaders, often find ourselves having to address a variety of priorities that seemingly need to be handled at once. As we begin to evaluate each priority, on the surface, they can appear to be competing priorities. However, as we dig deeper, we begin to realize they are a series of needs interwoven amongst each other.
For me, I view it as a rope with multiple knots. As we work to unlock one knot, it either loosens the rope further to undo the others or tightens the others. To achieve the goal, we must decide which is the knot that needs to be addressed first. The scenario exercise was about teamwork; we all came to the table with a different vantage point, allowing us to have additional insight and information we lacked as individuals. Going back to my knot example, each member on the team can see a different part of the knot and how it connects to the rest of the rope. By working together as a group, it is possible to avoid the unintended pitfalls within one’s blind spot.
In our group, we started our discussion with a focus on individual programs to address singular priorities. Not everyone was vocal at first. I noticed that a few were internal processors, where others processed their thoughts verbally while soliciting feedback. With this processing, team members gravitated to the priorities of their own experiences. However, as we listened to one another and asked questions, we began to realize how interwoven these programs and priorities were.
We started the conversation with the thought that we had to choose to either prioritize the K-12 or the Higher Ed programing. However, we came to realize the programs fed into one another. With this new perspective, we were able to see then how each joint K-12/Higher Ed program could feed directly into meeting the needs of the next joint program. As we tried to come to a consensus on the linear order of the programs, we found it a little challenging to pick just one to start. When we agreed, we also discussed opportunities for both K-12 and Higher Ed to work simultaneously to implement the newly prioritized programs.
This exercise was a great example of how teamwork and collaboration are essential in leadership. It takes teamwork at both the macro and micro level to achieve goals. In just this scenario alone, there were examples of this at three different levels:
1. Teamwork between leaders to understand the importance of each priority and corresponding program.
2. Teamwork between leaders to then organize and prioritize each program.
3. Teamwork between k-12 and Higher Education to orchestrate individual programs.
Teamwork really does make the dream work!