What got this all started was Dean threw out a comment on twitter “Teachers or leaders who say they don’t need to be liked to be effective are likely not liked and probably not effective.” to which I replied “but really, I am effective. ”
Now, it’s not that I don’t want to be liked – in fact, being a principal in a K – 12 school means that I DO want the students to like me. This can’t happen all the time. There is a huge difference between being liked and being effective. I’m the person that gets to come in after someone has worked at trying to be liked. I have spent most of my administrative career working at helping schools to move from being ineffective and dysfunctional to being effective, functional and doing “What’s best for students!” Don’t worry, this isn’t a story of how to do that – (secret NO MAGIC SOLUTION)
Do I want to be liked? Who doesn’t? It’s way to draining and soul sapping to work at being miserable. Something I point out to students, usually at odd moments when discussing something in a class I am teaching (which is another topic I really need to address), is that, for the most part, older people who are miserable were probably that way most of their lives. They’ve practiced at it and have become very good at it. They know how to suck the joy, fun and life out of any occassion. (Just take a look at some of the most recent articles written about THIS generation.) Not always but more common than not. I also point out that it’s an attitude – and that they have complete control of theirs. No one makes you be miserable – you choose that all by yourself.
No, there is a difference.
You see, it’s like this – I love my children but I don’t always like them. Heck, I love my wife but I don’t always like her. It’s what I do because I love them that makes the difference during those times when I don’t like them. At school, I love what I do. I don’t always like some of the decisions or some of the situations but I love doing what I do because what I do is so very different from what many administrators do. How do I know? Well, in working with administrators for the past 10 years, my stories aren’t the same. In fact, many of the stories I hear, begin where mine end.
Sometimes you aren’t liked. Sometimes you have to make very tough choices and they are hard to make and rarely do people agree with you …… at the time. In fact, it is not until much later and only through another source, that I have learned that people who have come after truly appreciate the difficult decisions and the tough choices.
I don’t like not being liked but sometimes you have to be willing to move through that in order to do what is right for students.
*Small aside – I do know that many will not understand and will disagree. But, and I read this somewhere, via a link on twitter, until you understand the road I have tread, you only glimpse a shadow of what I have walked.