A common role of a leader is initiating and leading change. In my experience as a principal and superintendent a critical but often neglected strategy for effectively leading change is tying change to purpose.
Through strategic planning most school districts have a mission statement that has been crafted with stakeholder input and should serve as a guiding statement about our purpose for existence. While school district mission statements can be very unique, they all contain common elements about our core business of teaching and learning. We need to “dust off” the mission statement and utilize it as we contemplate any kind of change.
If the change you are considering does not potentially move the organization towards the achievement of the mission, you probably are embarking on an ill-conceived change. At some point in every change process in which I have been involved, I was called on to defend the change. When I was prepared to succinctly tie the change to our mission, the change was more often accepted and many times embraced.
But what about change that is needed but is not so easily tied to our mission – for instance, a needed systemic change in the way we handle financial procedures. Since we are mission driven and not profit driven, it is obviously more difficult to tie that needed change to the mission but certainly not impossible. If this needed change will make us more efficient and, thereby, save money that can aid us in accomplishing our mission, we are on the road to tying it to our mission. And when we connect the change to our mission, we are leading with purpose.