This past week my staff gathered for our annual retreat where the theme of “Bucket Dipping” challenged us to reflect on how we interact with others every day. How Full is Your Bucket? by Rath and Clifton provided us with the following theory of the dipper and the bucket:
“Each of us has an invisible bucket. It is constantly emptied or filled, depending on our daily interactions with others. When our bucket is full, we feel great. We are productive. We make a positive impact on our workplace. When it is empty, we feel down. We are deflated. Each of us also has an invisible dipper. When we do or say things that increase positive emotions in others, we are using that dipper to fill their buckets. Conversely, when we are negative, we are using that dipper to decrease others’ positive emotions by dipping from their bucket.”
It was a well-organized day that provided each of us with many opportunities to think about the ways in which we approach our individual roles in the school. I’m sure every staff member will take what they learned and apply it in the future.
For me, as the school principal, my attention was drawn to shepherd leadership, something I learned about a couple of years ago. Bucket filling, I thought, was a lot like shepherd leadership. At that time, the presenter outlined the differences between bad shepherding and good shepherding:
Bad Shepherds take care of themselves while Good Shepherds take care of the flock.
Bad Shepherds worry about their own health while Good Shepherds strengthen the weak and the sick.
Bad Shepherds rule harshly and brutally while Good Shepherds rule lovingly and gently.
Bad Shepherds abandon and scatter the sheep while Good Shepherds gathers and protect the sheep.
Bad Shepherds keep the best for themselves while Good Shepherds give their best to the sheep.
Then, to connect it to our work in our schools he suggested 4 elements of shepherd leadership that I live by to this day.
- Keep an eye on everything. (Know the heartbeat of your school.)
- Ignore most things. (You can’t solve all the problems.)
- Stand firm on a few things. (Choose your battles.)
- Praise a lot.
The theory of the dipper and the bucket is a lot like shepherd leadership, don’t you think?