New Leaders: Gather Data

Part 3: Gather Data to Make Change

Photo by Jan Kahánek on Unsplash

As a new leader, gathering data is a key part of your entry into your new community. Throughout your first year and in every interaction, make sure you are gathering data about the people and the place that you are leading. This requires actively and carefully listening and careful note-taking. You might be eager to share about yourself and your ideas in some of these interactions and yet it may be more important to provide space for others to share what they know and understand first. This data and knowledge that you gather from the community will be vital for future change-making of any sort. Gathering data is the first step. 

Tips for Gathering Data

  • Listen with an active listener’s stance. Listen to understand rather than listen to plan your response.
  • Take thoughtful notes. Record dates and names of people. Go back to your notes weekly to review and create ‘To Do’ items.
  • Look for themes and patterns that indicate trends in beliefs and behaviors. Do these beliefs and behaviors match with the mission, vision, and values of the school?
  • Observe. What do you notice about the way community members communicate? How is feedback given and received? What traditions do they value?

When managing change in a new community, the first step is to step back, observe, and gather data on what currently exists. Once you understand the way the community communicates, interacts, and works then you can take steps to manage and plan subtle shifts and changes. 

Stepping into a new leadership position can be riddled with a mix of feelings. This is expected and typical for leaders of all levels of experience. Building relationships, telling your story, and gathering data along the way are just some pathways to entering a community with intention and purpose.