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Ambiguity Tolerance

April 28, 2019

Years ago, I introduced the concept of being good at “change” by scheduling meetings with building staff and then sharing what I thought was a simple and direct message.  After my first visit, (sorry, Heritage School staff) I learned that the message was anything but simple. My message intended to convey the idea of being flexible and open to positive change; a growth mindset comes to fruition.  Unfortunately, the talk invoked a fear of unwanted and needless change. Staff members interpreted my message as “change for change sake” rather than one of encouraging growth.

In reality, change is inevitable.  School leaders must become adept at dealing with uncertainty. That skill, known as ambiguity tolerance, involves embracing unpredictability and the unknown, both as vehicles for positive growth.

School leaders notoriously control the environment and seek order.  Helping leaders to learn how to let go of the desire for control is challenging, yet necessary. Once school leaders can accept the discomfort that comes with not always having the answers, growth begins. To be effective in my role as Superintendent, I need to resist the urge to move too quickly.  The desire to solve issues expeditiously or rush to innovate without enough information can result in poor implementation. While I may have a vision for what needs to take place, unless I carefully weigh all possible outcomes, involve critical stakeholders, and trust the process, the vision will fail.  

Conversely, not embracing the need to make sound decisions and move forward means accepting the status quo. Mediocrity might be comfortable; however, it is not future-focused and innovative. Those of you familiar with Saline Area Schools mission, vision, and learner profile and know that accepting the status quo is not an option.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. Jkrouskoff permalink
    April 28, 2019 12:05 pm

    Disrupting the status quo is non-negotiable; doing it well is an art! Thanks for sharing Scott.

  2. Heraclitus permalink
    April 28, 2019 8:52 pm

    The only constant in life is change.

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