Setting the School Climate: Bring the Energy!

As a school leader, one of my most essential responsibilities is to bring a positive attitude and demeanor as I sit in meetings, speak in public settings, or walk around campus engaged in one-on-one conversations. Next, I seek to hire joyful, and generally optimistic teachers and staff. Why is this such a priority for me? I believe it is paramount because the attitude of the administrative team, teachers, and coaches, filters all the way down into the students in the classroom, and sets the tone for the entire campus. If the teachers are happy, then the students are happy. And if the students are happy, then the parents are happy too (well, most of the time). The energy of the school leader, or lack of it, will brighten or darken the mood of the campus. As John Maxwell rightly notes, “People may hear your words, but they feel your attitude.” And on a Christian school campus, we want everyone to feel love, joy, peace, and the rest of the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23).

In his article entitled, “Three Reasons a Leader Must Have a Positive Attitude,” Kevin Eikenberry highlights these important points:

  1. You are in the energy business. The attitude and energy you bring to the office, classroom or basketball practice will be injected into your team and organization.
  2. Positive attracts. This is common sense wisdom. Would you rather follow a leader who encourages, or one who berates and belittles? Positive enthusiasm attracts others, and the best leaders understand that people follow them because of this.
  3. Positivity creates productivity. Research has shown that students learn best when they feel safe, happy, and cared for. The same principle applies to adults, although it looks a bit different. If you want to have a bigger impact on those you lead and serve, bring the encouragement while laying out goals and demands. Productivity and the bottom line will improve.

Believe me, I am aware that operating a private school is not for the faint of heart, since demands come from various quarters, including the board, parents, staff and students. Challenges exist even when things run smooth. The wisest and most experienced school leaders will still face those “divide the baby” moments on a regular basis (recall King Solomon and the two women arguing over who of them was the baby’s mother). Does the spring of 2020 ring a bell?

Let’s surround ourselves with happy and highly competent people, who love their work, and their students. But they must feel that from you too, because we are in the energy business. Your staff will appreciate your confidence and increase their trust in your leadership because of it. A bright and energetic school climate that is full of joy on the good days, and hope on the difficult days, will result in students and staff who are more successful in reaching their goals and fulfilling their purpose.

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