July 18, 2022

But Is Kind Leadership Practical? (Challenge #24)

But Is Kind Leadership Practical? (Challenge #24)

I have a big vision for the Kind Leadership Guild. I think I’ve mentioned it in passing here and there, but my long term goal is to create the Kind Leadership Academy, a membership community where dozens or even hundreds of educational and library leaders can safely and privately discuss their challenges. Where leaders like you can take part in live monthly training on real-world leadership topics, and engage in small group or even 1 on 1 coaching experiences tailored to your unique situations. Where different levels of support are available at different prices, so that no leader will be excluded from learning Kind Leadership simply because their organization can’t pay them what they are worth. And where, by working together collectively, we can build the better world each of us envisioned when we became educational or library leaders. 

But I also have a vision for my life that involves a somewhat demanding day job, quality time with my spouse and friends, regular exercise, something resembling 8 hours sleep, and above all a promise I made to myself around the time I founded the Kind Leadership Guild in late 2019: That I will never burn myself out for a vision again. 

So, how am I squaring that circle? By employing the second of the three skills of Kind Leadership: Managing effectively. Keep listening for a case study, and for the scoop on my next baby steps toward the Kind Leadership Academy.
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Email me to learn more about the Kind Leadership Academy: sarah@kindleadershipguild.com

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Transcript

I have a big vision for the Kind Leadership Guild. I think I’ve mentioned it in passing here and there, but my long term goal is to create the Kind Leadership Academy, a membership community where dozens or even hundreds of educational and library leaders can safely and privately discuss their challenges. Where leaders like you can take part in live monthly training on real-world leadership topics, and engage in small group or even 1 on 1 coaching experiences tailored to your unique situations. Where different levels of support are available at different prices, so that no leader will be excluded from learning Kind Leadership simply because their organization can’t pay them what they are worth. And where, by working together collectively, we can build the better world each of us envisioned when we became educational or library leaders. 

But I also have a vision for my life that involves a somewhat demanding day job, quality time with my spouse and friends, regular exercise, something resembling 8 hours sleep, and above all a promise I made to myself around the time I founded the Kind Leadership Guild in late 2019: That I will never burn myself out for a vision again. 

So, how am I squaring that circle? By employing the second of the three skills of Kind Leadership: Managing effectively. Keep listening for a case study, and for the scoop on my next baby steps toward the Kind Leadership Academy. 

~~~

Welcome to the Kind Leadership Challenge, where I empower educational and library leaders like you to detox your organizations! I’m Sarah Clark, founder of the Kind Leadership Guild. My PhD in higher ed Leadership, my experience coaching, consulting, and presenting to library leaders all over the world, and a career working in academic libraries from the front desk to the Dean’s office taught me that leaders don't have to be perfect to build a better world. And now I want to share those same lessons with you.  

Here's the deal. You give me the next few minutes of your day. In return, I'll share short stories and simple challenges designed to heal yourself and your school or library, so you can get back to making the impact you wish to see in your communities. By embarking on each week’s challenge on your own or with the community of over 1000 kind leaders in our private facebook group, you and your team will begin growing humanely, managing effectively, and partnering collaboratively, and your school or library will build a more informed and educated world along the way.

Hey, did you know I also do online and in-person presentations, keynotes, and workshop facilitation? If you need an expert on library and educational leadership issues for your next conference, webinar, or staff development day, email me at  sarah@kindleadershipguild.com for details. I can only do a few engagements a semester between my day job and my other Kind Leadership projects, so contact me as soon as you can to find out more, and get on my fall calendar.

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A few listeners will note that in the intro I defined the problem I’m dealing with around the kind leadership academy using the same problem format I teach in the Get Unstuck course on kind leadership decisionmaking.  First you describe your desired outcome for a situation—in my case, launching the kind leadership academy to provide services and support for any library and educational leader who is ready to commit to create the better world they wish to see for themselves, their teams, and their communities.

Here’s where the second part of the problem statement, the obstacle comes in: I’m at a point of my life where I am no longer willing to risk my mental and physical health for a glorious vision of the future. Maybe I finally made that mistake enough times, or maybe I just grew up a little. Either way, putting my well-being above my drive to make an impact is now a core value.

And now for part three—the possible solution to our conundrum—how can I build a better world via something like the kind leadership academy without burning out?

Well, let’s turn to Kind Leadership itself. There are three core skills to kind leadership. they act like the three legs of a stool.  And like a three legged stool, if you can make those three skills equally strong without favoring or neglecting one of them, this leadership model becomes incredibly stable and resilient. 

The first skill of kind leadership, and the one I have probably talked about most on this podcast, is growing humanely. In a nutshell, a leader is only as good as their decisions. You need to care for and understand your physical, mental and emotional strengths and weaknesses. You also need to understand and honor your core values. Because in doing so, your mind, body, and soul will be in top condition to make the dozens of decisions a kind leader must make every day.

Decisions are the heart of Kind Leadership, and many of them are one-and-done situations. However, decisions can scale in two different ways. The first way is in a group-implemented decision, like an organization’s vision or strategy. That’s where the third leadership skill of Partnering collaboratively comes in. By building a trusting, psychologically safe team, you can have the debates and conflicts that flush out the weaknesses in an idea and turn it into a powerful initiative. And by building relationships with key stakeholders in your organization, you can get the support and outside perspectives you need to change the world with your vision.

You’ll notice that I skipped the second skill of kind leadership, Managing effectively. That’s because it’s the one most relevant to my goal of creating the kind leadership academy without burning out. It’s all about the nitty gritty of getting things done with limited time, money, information, and or political capital by creating processes—i.e decisions that can be made once, then scaling them by implementing them over and over, with only occasional tweaks as situations change. Managing effectively involves taking raw information and synthesizing it into insights and knowledge that can be used to create a process, as well as getting honest about both the limits of the time, money, and political capital you have available, AND possible strategies to grow them.

So, back to the question that I posed how can I manage a Kind Leadership Academy, the Kind Leadership Challenge, my social media, and all those other little bits and pieces of a small business without flaming out?

Well, I can’t, at least not yet.  So to take the next step, I will need a system to fill in the holes that I can’t fill with my time.

So here’s the revised plan that will allow me to take the baby steps into the Kind Leadership Academy.

I am going to continue writing and recording my podcast episodes, but offload the editing to someone else. I’ll miss it, but I deliberately designed the process of creating this podcast in a way that any editor could do it. 

Similarly, I will find someone, maybe the same someone, to help me keep up with my emails, social media, speaking requests, and spark the conversation in the Kind Leadership Challenge facebook group. 

And third, I will shift to using those precious 20 hours or so a week I have for this project to do the things only I can do—write episodes and daily emails, plan my speaking engagements and maybe revive my zoom workshops in some form. Finally, and this is the first time I’m saying this out loud into the universe, I will use that freed up time to launch the Kind Leadership Academy. 
 
 My plan is to start the academy this fall with a charter class of five leaders who want to go on a semester-long journey that will include both one-on-one coaching and group meetings. The academy will ground you in the fundamental skills of kind leadership, equip you with solutions to the leadership challenges you’re dealing with right now, and provide you with a community of likeminded leaders who you can support and depend on through good times and bad. There will be a financial investment because just like your school or library, I can only scale my vision for the Kind Leadership Academy with money. In addition, I know from my own experiences that I work harder and learn more when I have skin in the game. That said, the investment will be doable for the vast majority of you listening to this episode. 

I’m being a little vague about the exact details, because I will work with each of you to refine the academy experience to increase its value as we go along. That said, My goal is that the charter members of the academy and those who follow you will make your investment of time and money back tenfold in improved negotiation skills to help your bump up your budget and perhaps even your salary, greater productivity for yourself and your team, and the priceless gift of a balanced life that includes a productive day’s work, a present evening with family, capped off with a deep, stress-free sleep. If that sounds like your cup of tea, my challenge for you this week is to take a little risk by emailing me to let me know. We’ll talk more. 

So that’s my challenge to myself, to use the second kind leadership skill, Managing Effectively, to kick the Kind Leadership Guild into a new gear. Will it work? I’ll let you know.

Thanks for listening and for taking action to become a kinder leader. If you found this week’s episode insightful, give the show a rating or review—or even better, tell your fellow leaders!  Never doubt that day by day, you’re building a better world, even if you can't see it yet. So until next time, stay kind now.     

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