The “From the Desk Of” series is my regular email to the Valley Torah High School community.
Who loves coming back to school after vacation? If you are imaging a blond principal with glasses and yarmulke with his two thumbs pointed to himself loudly proclaiming “this guy,” you would be correct! I was so excited to return to VTHS after a wonderful holiday and break. I was excited for the return of our students as well as our two day staff Leader In Me training. While, I hope in the near future to share more about this amazing program, I want to share an aha moment that I had during our focus on “Synergy”, which is the sixth habit of the seven habits of highly effective people.
Synergy, according to Steven Covey is the “the habit of creative cooperation.” The common paradigm of synergy is “let’s compromise” while the highly effective paradigm is “let’s come up with something that’s better than what either of us had in mind.” BAM!
I am one who believes in the power of collaboration. I am huge fan of the famous words by Ben Zoma (Avos 4.1) who asks “Who is wise? He who learns from every person.” However, it wasn’t until this Tuesday that I fully understood what I believed. In my opinion, a team is not fully functional unless they are working together in a manner where each member feels they have an equal voice and opinion in the outcome of their work. With that said, I would normally articulate that belief as the need to create a space where ideas can be shared freely without fear of rebuke. What I was missing was the articulation that not only is every idea valuable, but that the collective sharing of ideas is more valuable than the singular idea.
The sharing generates new ideas unlikely to be developed in isolation. It is not that I had not realized this or believed this to be true, but I suppose I used the term collaboration more to describe just the sharing as a way to honor each voice without articulated the goal of creating such a space. What I realize now is that the term “synergy” better defines my vision. In fact, I shared this with our staff the evening of training. Here is a snippet from the email I sent to them.
“There were many take aways from today, but the one that stood out for me was the 6th habit of synergy. I was struck by the idea that synergy is not just collaboration, but the safe sharing of ideas with the goal of generating new ideas that could not have existed without the sharing. This is certainly my vision for us as a staff and I certainly hope we are well on our way to true synergy. In fact, if you ever feel that I am not creating a space for the free flow of ideas call me out. I hope that we all try our best to make everyone feel that they have a voice and that their voice matters.”
We are a great school when each of our members voice is valued. We are even greater school when those voices come together to generate new ideas unknown to us before we came together. We began this process of building Synergy at our first staff training before school started this year when we as a team asked “What if…..” about the school and then added ideas to the “What if” of others. I look forward to sharing that process and their great questions in the future as well. However, from now, it was clear from the questions and ideas the staff raised that we are a team who seeks Synergy so that we can continue to innovate our practice. I look forward to us continuing to grow as a team, increase our synergy and go from great to greater.
Welcome back to our amazing staff, incredible students and fantastic families!