In my Time Management for Leaders Series I try to share advice for new leaders, leaders in new roles, and leaders who are working to get organized and efficient with their time, in order to serve as instructional leaders. In order to coach like an instructional leader, you need to control your time and not let it control you! You can see the entire series at the end of this post.
Today I want to be transparent about something that might be a secret to new leaders – good leaders don’t do it all alone. You may see a good leader and think:
- she is always so together!
- he is so organized!
- I wish was as efficient as she is!
- how does he do it all?!?!
- I could never be as good as she!
The secret is that most of the good leaders you admire have a strong support system behind them. You may not see all of their system, but know that a system is there, supporting each and every strong leader. None of us can do this amazing and challenging work alone. Here are some of the support systems that you can develop to help you grow as a leader. The stronger your support system, the better you will be able to manage your time.
- An assistant – I dedicated an entire post in this series to working with an assistant. Please read it here for more details. Your assistant can and should be a huge part of your support system, keeping you organized, on schedule, focused on the work, meeting deadlines, and available for your community.
- A way to keep notes – Have you ever walked down the hallway, had a teacher ask you something, and by the time you got back to your office you forgot what you needed to do? Every leader needs a way to keep notes, so that deadlines are met, communication happens consistently, and you are known as reliable. I personally use Evernote, because it is an app that I can access on any device at any time. I often only have my phone with me when I am visiting sites. I can take notes in Evernote on my phone and review the notes on my computer when I return to my office. I know other leaders who carry one notebook with them everywhere. They have color codes and post it notes to help them find their To Do lists and keep track of the notes they keep. Where you keep your notes is only important to you; how you use and access them to follow through is important to those you lead. If you don’t have a system to keep notes yet, ask other leaders what they use.
- A mentor – Very few leaders have gotten to their positions without the coaching support of a mentor (or a few!). Mentors can provide us with constructive feedback, advice, and support in our current roles and development to help us achieve future goals. I have found it helpful to have mentors in the positions to which I aspire, as well as long-term mentors who have watched me grow as a leader.
- Job-Alike Peers – Your peers, in job-alike roles, can provide you support in how to do specific tasks, how to handle challenging situations, how to work with a difficult colleague, and they can cover for you when you need to be in two places at once. When I was an Assistant Principal, I worked with number of other AP’s. Having a positive, trusting, working relationship with the other people in your office can help you, as a leader, continue to manage your time and be organized. You can also rely on peers in other schools to help you better understand your role or the day-to-day challenges. Sometimes it is helpful to hear how someone else handles the same situations you face in your role.
- Family & Friends – I hope that every leader has family and friends he or she can rely on. These are the people you are happy to see at the end of the day, the people who encourage you to take time off during the weekend to play, and the people you want to spend your free time with. If you work 24/7, you are not making time for family and friends. Your life can be richer thanks to these people.
- Physical & Mental Health – A good leader knows that in order to take care of others, you must take care of yourself. While many of us struggle to find time for our own physical and mental health, this is important. Part of time management is carving out specific times for you to engage in activities that support your physical and mental health, whether they be trips to the gym, walking dates with friends, meditation, exercise classes, mindful coloring, art classes, or anything else you need.
What else is in your support system?
Time Management for Leaders Series