Recently, I had the chance to catch up with a colleague from a previous school district who I hadn’t seen for years. While drinking coffee and catching up about our families and life, I asked him about his recent change in positions at a new school district last year. Suddenly, his head lowered and his eyes scanned the inside of his empty coffee cup. Barely opening his mouth, he quietly murmured, “My goal next year will be to stay under the radar”.
Although I could have asked him to disclose details on why he would have said that, I knew that wouldn’t have accomplished anything to help him. Instead, I asked him what he thought that would accomplish. This question allowed for a better, richer dialogue to see how I could help coach him up.
His eyes looked up, and placed his coffee cup on the table. With a small smile peeking through his mouth, he admitted that he wasn’t truly sure. He guessed that it would be better if he kept his head down low and stayed quiet around his peers due to some missteps from the year before and some negative feedback he received on his performance. As he restated his initial plan to just “fly under the radar”, he began to doubt the merits to this idea.
“Flying under the radar” doesn’t work in leadership.