May's Attribute: Advocative

By PrinciPal Connection posted 05-01-2019 10:17


Featured Attribute
Advocative – Develops implicit relational knowledge of the educational system through keen attention to human interest and need; actively advocates for students, teachers, and school with local, state, and federal policy makers.

Associated Competency
Cultural Responsiveness – Promotes cooperation, collaboration, and connectedness among a community of learners while responding to diversity, need, and capacity.

Associated Intelligence
Systems – Individual understanding of the inter-workings and leadership of complex systems within an organization.

For Your Reflection
Alison Maley, Government/Public Relations Director, Illinois Principals Association

Dr. Brené Brown, PhD, LMSW, writes in her 2015 book, Daring Greatly, about the power of vulnerability and courage. She also includes the following manifesto for leaders (click here to download):

“To the CEO’s and teachers. To the principals and the managers. To the politicians, community leaders, and decision-makers:

We want to show up, we want to learn, and we want to inspire.

We are hardwired for connection, curiosity, and engagement.

We crave purpose, and we have a deep desire to create and contribute.

We want to take risks, embrace our vulnerabilities, and be courageous.

When learning and working are dehumanized, when you no longer see us and no longer encourage our daring, or when you only see what we produce or how we perform – we disengage and turn away from the very things the world needs from us: our talent, our ideas, and our passion.

What we ask is that you engage with us, show up beside us, and learn from us.

Feedback is a function of respect: when you don’t have honest conversations with us about our strengths and our opportunities for growth, we question our contributions and your commitment.

Above all else, we ask you to show up, let yourself be seen, and be courageous. Dare Greatly with us.”

The manifesto is a reminder to leaders to understand the needs and desires of the community they serve. A leader must provide those opportunities for community members to learn and inspire, create the connections and purpose they long for, and provide authentic engagement. Real connection with others means understanding the emotions, thoughts, and behaviors of others, but also possessing the vulnerability and willingness to understand your own emotions, thoughts, and behaviors and how they affect those relationships. The most effective and powerful advocacy comes from a genuine understanding and appreciation for the needs and interests of your students, teachers, and community, and articulating those needs with policy makers.

The manifesto is also helpful to those in leadership positions seeking to be heard by policy makers. How can you create a message that judging a school community on what they produce or how they perform, disengages those in the process and stifles talent, ideas and passion? How can you create a message that elicits respect and engages policy makers in honest conversations about strengths and opportunities for growth?

The title of the book Daring Greatly is based on a speech from Theodore Roosevelt delivered in 1910.

“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”

Are you ready to step into the arena and advocate for your school community? Have you done the work to understand and engage your community to advocate for them? This is the courageous, vulnerable work to become authentic leaders and advocates.

To Keep You Thinking

  • How can you better understand or appreciate the needs of your students, teachers or community?
  • Note some examples of how you have advocated for fellow administrators, your staff, your students, or your school? Can you do more in any of these areas?
  • Are there aspects of diversity, human needs, or capacity that you need to explore to become a more effective advocate?
  • Think about a positive interaction with a policy maker – what went right, why was it positive?
  • Think about a negative interaction with a policy maker – what went wrong, why was it negative? How can you change the message to engage the policy maker in a more honest, productive conversation?