Do Your Homework and Listen
The sound of reams of paper and stacks of books hitting the Clovis Unified Governing Boardroom dais brought a hush to the crowded meeting. Critics of the recently adopted State Standards and the District’s work to develop new curriculum had been in attendance at meetings of the Governing Board for months. Passionately challenging the need for new standards, the group had alleged ill-intent toward students and had delivered mountains of reading material to the Governing Board and Superintendent to prove their opinions. The moment had come for the Superintendent to decisively end the debate.
With calm authority, she spoke of the hundreds of hours of research invested in the District’s decision, and the extent to which she and her team had listened to their concerns, investigated information sources on both sides of the issue, and considered their opinions. Speaking for an entire team of principals and curriculum developers, she planted a flag asserting that the Clovis Unified educational team be trusted for its expertise, that she had heard the speakers’ concerns and perceptions, and that after exhaustive research could confidently say that the District leadership’s decision was what was best for kids.
There will always be people who disagree with decisions leaders make. Sometimes, that disagreement stems from differing values and opinions, and sometimes it’s based in misinformation and distrust. A leader should take the time to listen carefully, understand the source of disagreement, do the necessary homework, and be open to hearing differing opinions. If, after that, the decision remains a good one, stand firm on it and speak up for your team, having demonstrated an open mind and care for the voices of others.