Key takeaways

  • Reflecting on emotions allows leaders to understand and manage their reactions, fostering self-awareness and proactive responses to challenging situations.
  • Daily stress management techniques are essential for leaders to mitigate the negative effects of stress, ensuring they remain resilient and focused on their goals.
  • Understanding personal motivational factors empowers leaders to harness intrinsic and extrinsic motivators, driving productivity and adaptability in the face of challenges.

District leaders are often tasked with navigating complex situations. With whole school systems relying on one person, leaders need to manage their emotions, thoughts, and behaviors. Leaders who practice self-management skills are less likely to feel overwhelmed and more likely to model and maintain self-control. Modeling self-control sets a tone for dealing with challenging situations. Leaders can use this to empower their staff. Using strategies to strengthen self-management skills helps leaders continuously reflect inward and remain focused on overall goals and outcomes.

Here are 7 quick and easy strategies for practicing and improving self-management skills:

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1. Take inventory of and own your emotions

Taking time to reflect on how you really feel helps you evaluate your emotions and reactions both day-to-day and moment-to-moment. If we want to change how we feel in the future, we must start with how we feel now. Digging deeper into our emotional response system and identifying specific and appropriate emotions allows for the beginning of an analysis that can lead to identifying response patterns and behavior. It helps develop an emotional landscape that can then be used to better understand ourselves and be proactive when faced with difficult situations. Planning for the future effectively means understanding what did or didn’t work, and why.

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2. Practice managing stress daily

We know that prolonged stress has negative effects on our health. Additionally, stress is often subjective and responses vary from person to person. Therefore, it is critical for leaders to understand the causes and effects of stress, specific to them, so that they can develop strategies to manage stress daily. Every day poses its own set of unique challenges, and doing the best that you can to anticipate these challenges combined with effective strategies ensures that you have tools for self-regulation when you need them the most.

3. Evaluate motivational factors

Motivation is incredibly important to our productivity. When we feel motivated, we thrive. When we feel unmotivated, we struggle to meet our goals. Tapping into our motivation and gaining better insight into our motivations helps us adapt better to changes and daily challenges. Internal and external factors can trigger motivation. It is important to reflect on the things that motivate you so that you can use that information to increase progress toward your goals. Simple motivational strategies can go a long way.

4. Set SMART Goals

Those who are set often accomplish more than those who do not. Goal setting is important for generating momentum toward desired states. However, effective goal setting is much more systematic than simply sharing a desired outcome. Ensuring that the goals you prioritize follow a SMART goal format can increase the likelihood of achieving those goals. Leaders consistently juggle tasks and are forced to prioritize daily.

Applying the SMART goal format to a handful of priority tasks facilitates momentum toward achieving those goals. (Tweet this)


5. Assess your strengths

Part of self-management is knowing your strengths and knowing how to utilize them where it is most important. This allows you to design tasks and goals that play to your strengths and leaves room for including others who complement your strengths. An important part of leadership is collaboration and knowing when you can play to your strengths and ask for additional support can go a long way with your stakeholders.

6. Prioritize daily

Sometimes we can feel overwhelmed with the amount of tasks on our plate. Frustration occurs when we feel overwhelmed as a result of not accomplishing tasks. This can impact our motivation and create unnecessary stress. So, prioritizing tasks is a quick way to support self-management. This helps with evaluating and managing goals in a way that helps us understand that not everything is as important as everything else. Prioritizing tasks allows leaders to work toward the goals that matter, and often, produce the highest sense of accomplishment.

7. Develop organizational systems

There are several ways to stay organized. Furthermore, an organizational system that works for one person might not work for the next. Part of developing an organizational system that works is being aware and reflecting on areas where you need the most efficiency. When leaders have systems for easily accessing information or running meetings, this alleviates potential stressors that come along with feeling unprepared. A few key systems that support productivity can make a huge difference when it comes to feeling organized.

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In conclusion, mastering self-management skills is imperative for district leaders as they navigate multifaceted challenges within the education system. By reflecting on emotions, managing stress, and understanding motivational factors, leaders can foster resilience, productivity, and adaptability. Implementing practical strategies like goal setting, assessing strengths, and prioritizing tasks empowers leaders to maintain control and model effective leadership, ultimately contributing to the overall success of their schools and staff.

Click here to download a free guide on the 7 actionable steps to improve self-management, to use in your district and share with your colleagues. Click me

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Author: Scarlett Tannetta & Shawna Jensen

Posted: 13 Apr 2021

Estimated time to read: 6 mins

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