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The School Improvement Specialists
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At Least an IOTA

The word “iota” is defined as a very small amount, the least. In this case, iota is being used to identify three basic and foundational action steps leaders should take.

I:          Inspire

O:        Observe

TA:      Take Action


Leaders must inspire! Inspiration is an emotion that is difficult to quantify or measure, but we can see the power of inspiration. Every great movement (and some not so great) begins with inspiration.  People want to be part of something that is bigger than them, part of a mission that bonds them with others who feel the same way. Successful leaders must paint a picture for people- tell a story that makes the vision comes alive.  It is up to the leader to provide that vision with enthusiasm—that means they themselves must be enthusiastic about their vision.  Enthusiasm is contagious.  People are attracted to enthusiasm.  At the same time people want to give more than their work.  Leaders should invite people to contribute ideas, passion and their enthusiasm.


New leaders and even some experienced leaders feel the burden to provide answers.  Their first impulse is to solve their people’s problems. There are times this is necessary. There are more times when leaders need to sit back and observe, first.  To collect data.  To listen.  To learn.  Objectively. To set the stage for things to come. In addition to being an efficient and effective strategy, this also shows respect for the experience of the people you want t o lead and their work. If leaders expect respect, they must give it. 

Here are some of the things leaders should observe:

  • Is there a safe culture where people feel comfortable expressing ideas?
  • Who are the influencers in the group?
  • How do people interact with each other?
  • How do people communicate with you?
  • Is climate enthusiastic?

Take Action

Two of the characteristics of a good leader are knowing WHEN to take action and WHO should take the action.

WHEN is after data has been collected and a strategy designed.

WHO depends on the situation. Strong leaders know that delegating to others not only empowers people, but also develops future leaders.  It gives them an opportunity to add into the vision, making it real for them.

Integral to taking action, is deciding what the result of the action will be, and how you will determine if you achieved it.  In other words, what data can you observe to determine the action has produced the desired result? 


Inspiring, observing and taking action are three key qualities of the effective leader.  People want to be part of something with a bigger purpose.  Effective leaders know how to fill that want.


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