4 Strategies for School Leaders Who Want to Improve Self-Efficacy

by | Oct 19, 2016 | 0 comments

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Self-Efficacy and Organizational Culture for School Leaders

Ability is what gives you opportunity; belief is what gets you there. ~ Apollo

How do you view yourself as a school leader?

Self-efficacy is the theory that there exists within us a social construct whereby our personal perceptions of ourselves actually influence our real-life abilities and effectiveness in any given area.

The theory, developed by Robert Bandura, speaks directly to organizational culture. It’s a complex theory that is not overly complicated, and TheSchoolHouse302 strives to help readers get to simple with powerful ideas and effective practices for school leaders. In this post, our goal is to provide concrete examples on how to build self-efficacy in schools so that teachers’ and students’ self-perception of efficacy is strong. Where self-efficacy is high, contributions to your school goals will also be high. The converse is also true, where self-efficacy is low, the team’s contributions will also be low. It’s simple…when people feel like they can be effective, they will be.

TheSchoolHouse302 believes that it’s every school leaders’ role to improve self-efficacy in the organization and here’s how:

4 Strategies for Leading Self-Efficacy in Schools

Strategy #1: Successful experiences, often called “enactive engagement,” are a key to building a person’s self-efficacy. School leaders have an obligation to make sure that the folks who they supervise have successful experiences at work. This doesn’t mean that people will always be effective, but making sure that workers are in the right seats on the bus (Collins, 2001), for example, helps to ensure that individuals’ contributions are meaningful. Making a meaningful contribution to the organization is critical for building self-efficacy. Another way that leaders can provide successful experiences is to check in with employees to gauge their workload as well as the appropriateness and amount of work. This does two things 1. It allows the leader to make sure that the employee is not on overload because the minute they feel like “I can’t do this” it zaps self-efficacy, and 2. It ensures that folks are working on important things, not just urgent things. Completing important tasks over time improves efficacy. Just getting the urgent stuff done can diminish efficacy.

Tell us how you are creating successful experiences for your staff. @TSH302

Strategy #2: Modeling doesn’t just mean modeling the way as a school leader in terms of walking the talk. It also means that leaders provide examples of success.  This allows folks to actually see someone else, someone like them, make a contribution. It prompts the feeling that “if she can do this so can I.” A model also means that our feedback as leaders is backed up by a communicated visual model, like core values, strategic goals, a vision statement, posted goals, etc. When workers can see the model or framework that they are to reach for, it reinforces institutional values that nurtures an environment of “I can do that” versus “I’m unsure about what that might look like for me.” Modeling and creating models improves self-efficacy.

Tell us how you as a leader are modeling success. @TSH302

Strategy #3: Social persuasion, not to be confused with “peer pressure,” is about encouragement and specifically ridding the environment of discouragement. This strategy is about productive feedback. It doesn’t mean that feedback won’t be critical regarding the need for improvement. It simply means that areas of improvement need encouragement and support, even direct suggestions, so that we’re encouraging improvements and cheering people along the way.

Tell us how your feedback is productive and encouraging. @TSH302

Strategy #4: Psychological factors refer to the nerves associated with achieving success in something that may be new to a person. In an environment that supports mistakes and risk-taking, self-efficacy can be higher simply due to a culture that encourages employees in their contributions to the work. School leaders who value innovation, trying new ideas, focusing on excellence not errors, and who also understand that new ideas don’t necessarily work right away almost always have higher degrees of self-efficacy among their staff. School leaders can either choose to emphasize risk-taking to decrease nervousness with failure or punish failure, which thwarts both efficacy and forward momentum.

Tell us about innovation and risk-taking in your organization. @TSH302

Simple Strategies for School Leaders

Focus on providing successful experiences, making models and including visual supports, encouraging others through social persuasion, and decreasing psychological factors like nervousness, and you’ll improve self-efficacy in your school.

TheSchoolHouse302 is about getting to simple and maximizing effective research-based strategies that empower individuals to lead better and grow faster. We hope that you’ll like, comment, and share this content with other school leaders like yourself. 

Let us know what you think with a quick email to contact@theschoolhouse302.com

Joe & T.J.

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