Some organizations have adopted a survivor mentality in the face of budget challenges. Their employees, even their leadership, adopt an attitude of just trying to endure, of trying to minimize the damage of declining resources. Think Eeyore of Winnie the Pooh fame.
As leaders, we need to encourage a success mentality instead of a survivor mentality. With a success mentality, we ask ourselves how we can not only maintain but build on our successes, even as resources decline.
To encourage a success mentality, we should celebrate exemplars of this perspective within our organization. In selecting the recipient of our annual Superintendent’s Award last Thursday, I choose Susan Gregory, a Specialist in Transportation Operations, because of her success mentality. Susan’s efforts have played a key role in the work of the Transportation team in improving services even as measures were implemented to save more than $100,000.
Although Susan Gregory has a low-key personality, her success mentality makes her much more of a Tigger than an Eeyore.
Thanks to Jane Galluci, past president of the National School Boards Association, for introducing me to the concept of success and survivor mentalities.
Here is the text of my remarks in announcing the award.
Superintendent’s Award, 2012
During the last several years, staff members in our division have worked to not just sustain excellence, but to build on the excellence of our school division. And they have done so at a time when resources have declined dramatically.
The recipient of this year’s Superintendent’s Award exemplifies the attitude in our division of doing even more with declining resources. Sometimes, in other organizations, when staff members face declining resources they adopt a survivor mentality-an attitude of just trying to endure-of trying to minimize the damage of declining resources. This year’s honoree avoids a survivor mentality and instead displays a success mentality. She asks herself “How can we do an even better job, even as resources decline?
Our honoree skillfully analyzes data to identify the potential for cost savings. Her analysis over the last several years created the foundation for our successful implementation of changes that led to savings of more than $100,000. Were it not for these savings in the area of Operations, we would have had to consider further reductions in other areas, including instruction.
This individual is often called upon to conduct detailed analysis in a short period of time and she responds with a service-oriented attitude. She conducts the analysis of data while juggling her daily job responsibilities. And believe me, she works in a very busy office.
For her insight and initiative in helping us achieve substantial savings in the area of transportation through her analysis of bus routes, and in recognition of her success mentality in the face of fiscal challenges, we honor Susan Gregory as this year’s recipient of the Superintendent’s Award.