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Facebooking the Music

During the recession some administrators lost their jobs because of tight budgets.  But when the economy is not an issue, what else can jeopardize an administrator’s position?

Facebook_icon  Well, you could brag on your Facebook page about how easy your job is like one new Connecticut school superintendent did.  David Telesca of the Windsor Locks district posted on July first that he slept in and then spent some time on the Internet.  “If every day is like this, “ he said, “it’ll be the best job ever.”  His post also included that he had counseled a veteran administrator to retire, ending that information with a smiley face.  His board placed him on administrative leave.  Telesca thinks they’re overreacting.

This $150,000 a year job may not only be the best he’ll have, but the shortest.

Well, lack of judgment is certainly one of the main factors that can jeopardize an administrator’s job.  But it turns out that except for flagrant examples like Telesca’s, it’s not the most frequent reason administrators’ contracts are not renewed according to a study by Stephen Davis. 

Davis surveyed nearly 100 California school superintendents to determine why some principals lost their jobs.  It turns out that interpersonal relationships outweighed everything else.  Inability to get along with others was a bigger problem in superintendents’ eyes than low student achievement, resistance to change, or failure to maintain a safe environment.

I’m not sure how I feel about those survey results.  No one wants to work with a jerk (see Robert Sutton’s book, The No ****** Rule).  On the other hand, sometimes as a leader you have to do things that will not engender affection and appreciation from your staff.

A wise labor relations specialist told me early in my career, “If you have to choose between popularity and respect, choose respect.”  You don’t have to be liked, but you can’t afford to be disliked.  Oh, yeah -- and don’t talk about your day on Facebook.


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Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in Practical Leadership are strictly those of the author and do not reflect the opinions or endorsement of Scholastic, Inc.