Engage, Enable, Empower…Repeat


A couple of weeks ago, I saw the picture above pop up during a chat on educational leadership.  The notion being that educational leaders need to allow those teachers who are innovative and want to try new things the opportunity to move as fast and as far as they can.

That made me think about another comment I hear people say often–“What gets measured gets done.”  A system of accountability for teachers to ensure that the important things that need to happen do, in fact, happen.

I’ve given opportunities to people before that I hoped would be well received, and I think it was, but, in the end, implementation was iffy at best.  On the other hand, if we have great ideas and focus most of our time and energy on holding people accountable that don’t have a passion for it in the first place, we’re going to burn out quickly.

How can educational leaders promote innovation and see successful innovation?  After thinking about it more, even though both ideas are speaking to different issues, I believe educational leaders must use a similar, rather than different, approach with both.

Engaging, Empower, and Getting Out of the Way assumes that people are going to run ahead of the pack without a need for any assistance.  “What gets measured, gets done,” just sounds like walking around with a big stick, ready to pounce on the first person out of line. A better definition throws in some support on the way.  I think it looks more like:


Leaders must engage people by developing relationships and discovering passions; leaders must enable people, through resources and learning and other supports; leaders must empower people to use their talents and passions–and then leaders must start the process all over again.  People need to be inspired, not monitored.  Those who need oversight are not the people breaking the status quo and pushing boundaries.  Those who run ahead of the pack need leaders who run beside them and support them along the way.