Thus far, I have posted about educational conspiracy, challenging the competitive nature of schools, and assessing assessments. What follows is a topic near and dear to everyone’s career and workplace. This is a post I have been looking forward to sharing with all of you. It’s a bit lighthearted, but a serious topic for school leadership.
Let me begin with a disclaimer. A tantalizing and possibly offensive word will be used throughout this post. The word is not common to the professional language of Dr. McLeod or his readers. However, since I will be using the word in the context of a theory, it should be understood that I am not trying to be edgy or shocking. I am merely using the word for purpose of clarity.
The day before Christmas break I am browsing through a book store looking for a good gift for my principal. In the management section I spot a small book with an intriguing title – The No Asshole Rule. I first think this must be some kind of gag gift. But a ten-minute perusing of the book tells me something else. The author, Robert Sutton, is a well known and respected writer. He’s not joking here. He is only using the lay terminology for “difficult people”, “hardened hearts”, or “combative individuals”. I bought The No Asshole Rule (TNAR) for my principal, and a copy for myself. Now we’re both equipped to handle this obnoxious faculty member.
TNAR is a much needed common language leadership book. I know many of as are fans of many different education leadership authors (Fullan, Heifetz,Wheatley, and Gardner) . These books are chock full of ideas, principles, and theories that are sound, sensible, and applicable. But Sutton is onto something different here. His deliberate use of the word “asshole” to describe those – well, assholes – that we work with, sit through meetings with, receive directives from, and must collaborate with every day, is refreshing.
Though TNAR is written mainly for those employed in the private sector (where hiring and firing is fast and furious – unlike public education), it does have some practical applications for schools.
For instance, how many administrators, teachers, or staff members have you worked with or encountered that have indulged in Dr. Sutton’s “Dirty Dozen” list of actions that assholes use?
Check out Dr. Sutton for yourself.
A few things anyone can take from this book are Sutton’s suggestions on dealing with assholes you can’t get rid of:
His final word of advice is one that we should all take to heart. Don’t hire assholes. Those of us in positions of authority to hire faculty, administrators, and staff must seriously consider candidate’s personality as much as we consider their knowledge and ability. I’ll remember that as we begin our annual hiring carnival this Spring and Summer.
Lastly, Sutton’s book will give you some great tips on how to deal with those pesky, pernicious, parents whom we lovingly call (in the copy room) “assholes”.
PS- Just for fun: take the asshole quiz.
Mike Parent – guest blogger