A power struggle ensued during the first year. The superintendent, now with the support of the board and the building principals, took every opportunity to define the new culture in which differences would be respected and innovations would arise from constructive challenge. The bullies were not happy. But rather than taking on the leadership team, they strategically intimidated their peers with an us-or-them ultimatum. Worse than being ostracized, your ability to advance professionally would be undermined. It was a house divided.
A spotlight was shone on the bullies in year two. Their behaviors, whether overt or covert, were named and showcased. Everyone, regardless of tenure, rank, or seniority, was empowered to “throw a flag” if they witnessed a “foul.” By mid-year, the tide had turned. Accountability had taken charge. If words or behaviors didn’t fit the new climate, they stood out.
The final blow occurred during a staff meeting when one of the recently dis-empowered bullies stood up and chastised her peers for wasting her valuable time with this useless emphasis on culture. She informed the room that she had better ways to spend her time as she stomped out of the meeting. Knowing glances were traded throughout the room. The ringleader had just excused herself from the team.
Year three was greeted like a breath of fresh air. A celebration of differences and a bravery around innovation now fueled each day. The culture had shifted and was now owned by the team. The surgery was successful.