Several years ago, while serving as a principal in a large high school, I was chairing a leadership team meeting one day. As was often the case, I was engaging this group of highly trusted and very competent campus leaders in dialogue about how best to meet the needs of our struggling learners. (That is a perpetual problem in schools, for those of you who are not educators).
During the course of that leadership team dialogue, one of the department chairs took exception to a proposal that I offered for consideration. That was not at all an unusual situation. Still isn’t, for that matter. I was not offended by the push-back. In fact, I try very hard to foster an organizational environment in which debate, give-and-take, rebuttal, and dissent are protected and safe practices.
In this instance, the objecting department chair accused me of being “uninformed.” Not “misinformed” or “misled” or “mistaken” or “misguided.” Nope. “Uninformed.” Ouch! That hurt.
No, I didn’t bristle or curse or nip the chair back. I genuinely want feedback and pushback and healthy debate. I firmly believe that the best and most-likely-to-succeed decisions come from rigorous discourse. Clearly, I had hit a nerve with this person.
The assertion that I was “uniformed” did, however, cause me pause for deep reflection. If I was truly uniformed, or even perceived to be uninformed, then I had work to do, on a personal level. I either needed to learn more (in order to not be uninformed) or I needed to articulate my position more effectively (in order to not to be perceived as uninformed).
That experience was a good double-barreled lesson for me. I needed to do two things:
- LEARN MORE
- COMMUNICATE BETTER