Books

Using the Recovery Rocket to create your recovery plan

Our Wellbeing with NESLI series brings you essential wellbeing tools and downloadable resources that enhance the wellbeing of teachers, school leaders and school communities. In this edition of Wellbeing with NESLI, we look at Recovery Rocket. The Recovery Rocket model for maintaining your wellbeing is simple, effective and easy to use. It was created by Andrew May (2010), an executive coach and former sports psychologist at the Australian Institute of Sport. May adapted his insights from the sporting world and applied them to the world of work. He created the concept of an annual recovery plan, to enable people to perform at their best.Essentially, the Recovery Rocket provides a framework for maintaining a baseline of mental wellness over a year, and then reminds you to take time for yourself to do activities you enjoy – referred to as ‘recovery points’. It encourages you to make a ‘recovery plan’ at the beginning of each year, based on the model explained below and in this Recovery Rocket guide. The baseline framework suggests you aim for the following over a year:10-15 minutes of ‘slow time’ every day (going for a walk, preparing veggies for dinner, meditation, etc)300 nights of good sleep (7 + hours of unbroken sleep) every year (if you can)30 weeks where you accumulate 100 recovery pointsThree mini breaks (away from screens and day to day responsibilities)One big break or ‘off season’.Earning ‘Recovery Points’ You can earn recovery points in different ways that work for you. You might attribute 10 points to walking the dog, 20 points to doing a yoga class and 50 points to a one-hour massage. It is about choosing activities that you enjoy doing and giving them a number of points that relates to the enjoyment you get from engaging in them. The Recovery Rocket gives you the opportunity to approach your health and wellness in a flexible, personal way that works for you. As we look ahead to 2022, now is a great time to get started on your recovery plan for the new year. Downloadable resource: Download the Recovery Rocket guide here. WE NEED MORE LEADERS LIKE YOUYou’re here because you know that great leadership enables better teaching and learning. We’re here to help you be a great leader within your school community. For more leadership news, plus event updates and expert tips, subscribe to our mailing list. SUBSCRIBE NOW

Books

Wellbeing with NESLI: The Line of Choice

Our Wellbeing with NESLI series brings you essential wellbeing tools and downloadable resources that enhance the wellbeing of teachers, school leaders and school communities. In this edition of Wellbeing with NESLI, we look at the Line of Choice. The Line of Choice is a practical model that encourages you and your team members to create a culture that fosters accountability, ownership and teamwork. Working in a team with a positive culture contributes to better wellbeing for you and your team, boosting morale and leading to higher job satisfaction. In turn, students and teachers have better relationships; in fact, teacher wellbeing is a key factor in student outcomes.Below the line behaviour usually plays out in school communities with cultural issues, where people don’t feel comfortable, or don’t want to be accountable for the work they do, or the outcomes they produce. Instead, they turn to blame, excuses and denial to avoid taking responsibility – particularly when outcomes are less than desirable.Above the line behaviour usually occurs in an environment where people are happy to accept and take responsibility for the outcomes they produce – not just the excellent ones, but the not-so-good ones as well. They will take ownership, be accountable, and accept responsibility for their work. In these schools, teachers, school leaders and school staff usually experience a high level of psychological safety and can work collaboratively with each other.Download the School Culture and Line of Choice worksheet to see what above and below the line thinking and behaviour looks like.When your team members feel comfortable and psychologically safe, they are more likely to sit above the line. This is because above the line thinking and behaviours create a culture that is open, honest, supportive and accepting. This Line of Choice worksheet will help you ask the questions you need to direct your team to an above the line frame of mind.Downloadable resources: School Culture and Line of ChoiceLine of Choice WorksheetFor more leadership news, plus event updates and expert tips, subscribe to our mailing list Subscribe now.

Books

Hear and be heard: Achieving high-quality advocacy and inquiry at work

Do you ever feel like you can’t quite get your point across at work? Or maybe, you want to understand more about a decision that has been made? It’s frustrating to feel like you aren’t being heard, or that you don’t understand the motivation behind particular decisions that are being made. We sat down with Paul Larkin, Senior Facilitator and Executive Coach at NESLI to find out how we can hear and be heard at work using high quality advocacy and inquiry techniques.High-quality advocacy occurs when one states their point of view, explains their thinking and reasoning behind it, and invites and listens to another person’s point of view. High-quality inquiry is when one asks a question, shares what is behind their question and truly listens to the other’s response.Most conversations typically involve each person putting forward their point of view.  If you listen in to others conversations sometimes, you will likely notice very few questions asked, and those are often posed in a way that invites confirmation of one’s own point of view; very little real listening is undertaken. These is how low-quality advocacy and inquiry occur.What’s the difference between low-quality and high-quality advocacy and inquiry? According to Paul, the key difference between high-quality and low-quality advocacy and inquiry is your preparedness to reveal what is behind what you are saying and asking, and your openness to being genuinely interested in others’ views.“Low-quality advocacy, or everyday advocacy, could involve you making a simple statement. For example, ‘I think we should have paid parental leave in our company.’ Now, while that is a very valid belief, that statement doesn’t reveal anything about why you think that, or how you came to that conclusion.  It also doesn’t invite the other person to share their views,” Paul explains.Similarly, low-quality inquiry occurs where you ask a question, without providing context, or meaningfully engaging with the person with whom you are speaking.What does high-quality advocacy look like? There is a simple formula for high-quality advocacy.State your belief, opinion or ideaReveal the thinking or reasoning behind your pointInvite the listener to share their ideas about the topicActively listen With low-quality advocacy, you will find yourself stopping at the first step. There’s no real problem with this, but it’s also not very useful – you aren’t having an engaged, two-way conversation. Other barriers to achieving high-quality advocacy lie in feeling certain that you are right, or an unwillingness to consider other points of view.According to Paul, the best way to encourage your team to use high-quality advocacy is to practise it yourself.“The best way to influence others is by being a model of the behaviour you are trying to achieve.  People may be so amazed at the conversational outcomes you get that they will want to know how you do it.”What does high-quality inquiry look like?As with advocacy, there are four steps to achieving high-quality inquiry.Ask your questionExplain why you are asking the questionActively listen to their responseSeek to understand their point of view With low-quality inquiry, you will once again find yourself stopping at the first step, instead of going further to provide context, and to meaningfully listen and engage with the other person’s ideas. Barriers to achieving high-quality inquiry include the desire to be right, and a desire to be the person whose ideas are listened to and ultimately taken on board, leading to a disregard for the ideas and opinions of others on your team.Paul gives this advice for achieving high-quality inquiry: “Be constantly curious; suspend judgement; offer more questions than statements.”He adds, “whilst high-quality advocacy and inquiry may, on the surface, seem to take longer, the radical increase in understanding that arises leads to faster, more meaningful conversations and outcomes.”Once you and your team have practised high-quality advocacy and inquiry, you can have more meaningful conversations, more fully understand each other and have more open, robust, and fruitful conversations.How will you encourage your team to use high-quality advocacy and inquiry? Share with us in the comments below.

Books

Creating a culture of clarity: expert tips for effective conversations

Do you ever leave a conversation with a colleague and feel like you aren’t quite sure what you were discussing? You might feel like you don’t have the full picture of what they were trying to convey. This is quite common - but nonetheless it can make it hard to gain clarity and communicate clearly and effectively in the workplace.As a leader, there are things you can do to recognise and address these confusing conversations, creating clarity for yourself and your team. We spoke with Paul Larkin, Senior Facilitator and Executive Coach at NESLI, about what to look out for when conversations become clouded.Generalisations occur when someone makes a sweeping, all-encompassing, everything or nothing statement. For example, ‘everyone’s unhappy about that decision.’ While this is a concerning statement that needs to be addressed, it is unlikely that every single person is totally unhappy about a decision.Distortions occur when we take information and add meaning to it that may not be there. For example, a team member may look at their phone while someone is giving a presentation. The person presenting might take that gesture to mean that this individual does not care about the work they have done, or does not find it interesting. This may be the case – or there could be a family emergency, or an urgent alert. However, the person presenting has applied their own meaning to the action, and this is when a distortion occurs.Deletions occur when a crucial piece of information is left out. For example, ‘this is important.’ Who is it important to? Why is it important? Another example is ‘there’s no time.’ No time for what? Why is there no time? Most of the time, this will be clear. However, in situations where it is not immediately clear, or where further information is useful, it is important ask follow-up questions to truly understand what is going on.Blinking words are words that have multiple meanings, or that may lend themselves to different interpretations. Paul explains that often, there is ambiguity in a statement that needs to be addressed. But by identifying blinking words, you can ask further questions to figure out precisely what someone is saying to you.“For example, someone says, ‘The culture of this place is not healthy.’ Many people would either simply agree or disagree, aligned with their existing point of view,” explains Paul.“But by using generalisations, distortions and deletions, and by looking for blinking words, we can recognise that there is a lot in the statement that demands clarification, for example: where precisely is ‘this place’? Is it the company, department, team, city, country? What precisely is meant by ‘culture’? What precisely is meant by ‘healthy’? By recognising that there is a lot of ambiguous information in the statement, we can become curious and invite the person who said it to share some of their thinking more deeply.”In the above example, the words ‘culture’ ‘place’ and ‘healthy’ are all blinking words. To fully understand your colleague’s meaning, you need more clarity around what all these words mean to them.What happens next?Using high quality advocacy and inquiry techniques will allow you to clarify the issues and prompt your colleagues to communicate more clearly. Questions like:Who doesn’t agree with this decision?What is it about the culture here that is unhealthy?What does a positive culture look like to you?Who is this important to?Could it mean something else? Are you sure? By understanding generalisations, distortions, deletions and blinking words, and asking the right questions, you can help both yourself and your team to communicate effectively and with clarity.How will you use this information to communicate more clearly? Share with us in the comments below!

Books

New NESLI program empowers women teachers to step into leadership roles

NESLI is launching a new program that will help propel women into teaching careers by developing critical leadership and wellbeing skills.The NESLI Women’s Future Leaders Program focuses on improving resilience and wellbeing and  developing critical leadership, conflict management and networking skills. A recent study by Dr Sue Thompson shows that 26 per cent of women teachers report ‘a lot of stress’ in their roles, compared with 20 per cent of male teachers. The study also finds that teachers who report ‘a lot of stress’ are likely to leave the profession in the next five years. Dr Janet Smith, Program Director for NESLI, said that with women more likely to report high stress levels, it is likely that we will see more women leaving the teaching profession. “The absence of a reliable pool of future leaders in Australian schools is pressing and needs to be urgently addressed,” Dr Smith said.“Ensuring that teachers are aware of a pathway to leadership in a school environment, inspiring them to pursue leadership and enabling them to be effective, confident school leaders is critical to the success of Australia’s schools.“We know that while most teaching staff are women, most senior leadership positions in schools are held by men. We believe that nurturing the leadership aspirations and capability of emerging women leaders is an important step towards long-term gender equity, and better outcomes for schools, students and their communities.“The flexible, online program will set women teachers up for a successful career as future school leaders.”Recent findings from the National Initial Teacher Education Pipeline: Australian Teacher Workforce Data Report 1 (The Pipeline Report) reveal that Australia is facing a critical lack of new students studying and completing teaching degrees at universities. Attrition rates for early career teachers (those in their first five years) are estimated to be around 50 per cent, according to the Australian Association for Research in Education. “This research tells us that we are losing around half of our graduates before they can progress to middle and senior leadership roles in schools,” Dr Smith said.The Women’s Future Leaders Program is now open for enrolments. Visit www.nesli.org/futureleaders for more information and to apply. 

...
...

How to stay above the line of choice

Books

Have you ever heard of the line of choice? It’s a really impactful tool for leaders and organisations to measure both where you sit, and where your team and organisation sit in terms of accountability, ownership and teamwork.

Below the line thinking usually manifests itself in organisations with cultural issues, where teams or individuals don’t feel comfortable, or don’t want, to accept shared or singular responsibility for the outcomes they produce. There is a lack of willingness to take personal responsibility. This is particularly true where the outcome is less than desirable. It is also really understandable; as Brene Brown explains in her Ted Talk, ‘blame is the discharging of discomfort and pain’ by putting it on to another person. 

On the flip side, individuals and teams who sit above the line are usually in an environment where they as a team and as individuals are happy to accept and be responsible for the outcomes they produce- not just the excellent ones, but the not so good ones as well. In these environments, colleagues usually experience a high level of psychological safety and are able to work collaboratively with each other. 

Antony Maxwell, Senior Leadership Facilitator at WLA, said of the model: “Staying above the line is actually really challenging for most individuals and teams. Personal responsibility can be really challenging. You also see different individuals, pairs and groups working above and below the line depending on the project and the interpersonal relationships at play. 

“For example, you might have two members of your team who work really well together and consistently operate above the line. But when those two individuals are part of a bigger group, they fall below the line due to the interpersonal relationships at play. 

“It is really important to acknowledge that everyone falls below the line, if not every day then certainly most days. It is about psychological safety, personal responsibility and a feeling of insecurity and inadequacy. Leading by example and actively reaching out to support team members who consistently display below the line behaviours can really help to bring the entire team above the line.”

Recognising and addressing below the line behaviours: Below the line behaviours will fit into one of the following categories or personas; Defend, Blame, Justify, Quit, Victim, Deny. These can manifest in a number of ways; for example, if you are in a meeting with a member of your team and discussing a project that perhaps wasn’t managed as well as you would have liked, they might say ‘I could have managed it better except I didn’t get the support that I needed from (team member/department.)’ That’s an example of the employee making an excuse or justifying the outcome, and in the process, blaming the other person or department involved. 

In this example, you also need to see personal responsibility being taken by every member of the team in order for everyone to be working productively; both the team member who is tempted to blame another department and the department that they believe didn’t contribute to a good outcome. 

Some coaching questions can be helpful in this situation; countering that response with something along the lines of ‘Okay. What could you/we do differently next time to better manage that team so that you work better together?’ or ‘What are some things you could do to help them to be more involved or take more ownership of the project?’ Hopefully, this will encourage your team to take more ownership by empowering them to think about how they can take more personal responsibility for the outcome.

Recognising and encouraging above the line behaviours: In terms of recognising above the line behaviour, it is summarised by the acronym OAR: Ownership, Accountability and Responsibility. This can manifest in a number of ways; for example, if you are working with your colleagues on a project and someone in the team has not met a deadline, they will feel comfortable to put their hand up and say something along the lines of; ‘sorry, I didn’t get that done in time. I know this will have an adverse effect on the project. Once it is done I will try to support the team in other ways until we are all back on track.’ That’s an example of an employee feeling comfortable within their team and organisation to take personal responsibility for their actions and the compromised position they have put the team in.

In order for the above to happen, your team has to feel supported and psychologically safe in the workplace. An employee or team who feels they are not valued, that they are in a precarious position in the workplace or that they are not well-liked by their team or manager is far less likely to feel able to take personal responsibility for their actions and the outcomes they produce. It has to be said that one of the most important things you can do as a leader to encourage above the line behaviour is to demonstrate it yourself.

 As good leaders we know that our employees aren’t perfect, and neither are we. We also know that at least once (probably more) we have been guilty of demonstrating that below the line behaviour. By demonstrating to your team your willingness to own your own mistakes and take responsibility for them, you create a culture that makes it easier to do the same. 

Identifying where you sit on the line of choice: 

Antony is a strong advocate for teams utilising ‘walk and talks’ to connect with their fellow colleagues and to identify where they are perceived to sit on the line. 

“I would recommend that you start with people you are close to and work your way out from there. People are far more open to receiving feedback from people that they have a close relationship with and feel psychologically safe around. Focus on identifying one thing you could work on in the next 30 days and then really actively focus on it.

Over time, expand your conversations to other people that you work with, your supervisor and even people in other teams. Knowing where you are perceived to be is really important.”