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“Focus on an ocean of positives, not a puddle of negatives.” ― Kevin Ansbro

Last week I started a series on “How to retain top talent through tumultuous times” and leveraging the 8 BEs when tackling the Talent EXODUS in our districts, organizations, or on a campus. If you did not get a chance to read it just click on the link:

The first “BE” in retaining top talent is to BE Responsible. I know you are asking what does taking responsibility have to do with retaining top talent. Taking responsibility is the foundation that sets the tone for the entire organization and the team member experience. This is not easy, because most organizations like to focus on where they would like to be (sharing a lot of platitudes) and not focus on the work to get there. Do not get me wrong, that is not a terrible thing; however, there must be a firm understanding of where we are at this moment and being able to INTENTIONALLY articulate the gap between where we want to be and where we are now. Sometimes we focus more on WHAT needs to be done (performance/tasks) than HOW (behavior, attitude, beliefs) we will get it done. I have known leaders and individual contributors in the past that were awesome at getting things done, but there was always a cost to morale, culture, and retention. It is like asking for rain for your crops, and instead you get a hurricane. We must be intentional about what we want and how we will get it done.

The other challenge with taking responsibility is new leaders coming into an organization and not owning the challenges that exist and constantly deflecting current challenges to prior leadership or situations that did not involve them. Wouldn’t it be great if a campus/organizational leader would walk on to a mismanaged campus/organization and take ownership day one – think about it?! Or a superintendent in her first board meeting takes ownership of where the organization is and how they are going to work with community leaders, families, administration, and staff on the solutions to guide the organization their shared vision. The SOONER we accept responsibility, the quicker we can get others on board in repairing the challenges.

What does this have to do with retaining top talent? It has a lot to do with it as your top talent, internally and externally, is watching how this is playing out throughout the organization and considering whether there is organizational alignment and ownership to the vision and values or are a group of leaders just PRETENDING.

We are all leaders in our organization and there is always someone watching to see how we execute the organization’s vision and values no matter how well things are going or how challenging they get.

Our positional leaders are subject to more scrutiny because they have more visibility with the stakeholders. They are charged with being the “guardians” of the visions and values of the organization. So, when our positional leaders do not take full responsibility for everything impacting the organization, this is where “top talent” begins to question whether they are a good fit for an organization that says one thing and does something else. Top talent will initially challenge the status quo and try to influence change because they believe in the vision, but over time, talent will begin to think about where they can make a difference. The key to retaining top talent is taking responsibility, NOW.

Let us be honest, Covid is not anyone’s fault; however, it is our RESPONSIBILITY to lead our teams through this by staying aligned to our organization’s vision and values. It all starts with YOU!


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