Saturday, August 30, 2014


I have been thinking a lot about power of late.
We have a team coordinator who is very new to all of this. I recommended her for the position, as I did not want the hassle. She is, shall we say, evolving.
We talked one day about what leaders do. In her mind, she wants our middle school team to all go in the same direction, which actually is her job. She also wants us in the same boat. Introvert that I am, I objected.
She is young, and the first in her family with a college degree.
Being new to this power idea, she feels she had to be in charge. She is new. She wants to be a boss, but at our school coordinators are not administration, so she has no real power over any of us. It is not an easy job.
I, on the other hand, lead from behind, if that makes any kind of sense. While she is busy with meetings and PowerPoints, I am in the back, coming up with ideas, getting things done. Being free from the mundane allows my rather unique brain to roam free, unencumbered by minutia.
I realized that power is tricky stuff. The people who appear to be in power may not be. Those who do not have the job title may, in reality, have power beyond measure. The job title is meaningless.
I have also realized that real power is subtle, quiet, dangerous. They say the president of the United States is the most powerful person on the planet. Sadly, in this case, we know that not to be true. He appears to be powerful but we know better.
Schools are the same way. We work at a small school. I love this school. I love the staff, the kids, the admin - all of it. The real power lies in the people who have been there the longest. Some of them are teachers, many of them are not. Few, a very few, have actual titles indicating some sort of leadership or coordinator, or whatever you want to call them.
I may not have a title, but a curious thing happened just the other day, Our director dropped into my room the other day, for a few seconds. I asked her, in a 30 second conversation, if we could tweek the way kids move around the halls. This has been bugging me for years. I have been getting resistance from many of my team mates, two of whom are now gone. So, for months I practiced going to the director and asking for "clarification on the policy." When the director stopped by for a totally different matter, I saw my chance. I took it. Guess what. The very next day we were informed that the hall policy had changed. Coincidence? Maybe. Our director is quite wonderful. Still, this is how power actually works. It is not meeting after meeting after meeting. It is men with cigars in back rooms, people on the golf course or tennis courts. Power is a phone call to the right person.
There is an old saying - when you have really arrived, you don't have to shout about it. Power is like that. 

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