What Do Good School Principals and Good Proposal Managers Have in Common?

We all want our children to have great school  teachers and principals , just as organizations want to have great Proposal Managers leading their proposal teams.  But do they have anything in common?

In a recent issue of Education Week, there was an interesting letter to the editor by Rebecca Wheat, a former school principal, about principals and school climate.  According to her, good schools have one major characteristic in common:  “a leader who knows how to create a positive school climate and spends a great deal of time building relationships.”

She identifies four traits of successful principals that I think fit successful  Proposal Managers.  I will list her traits and apply them to the proposal environment.

1.  Good principals meet with everyone in the school and ask “how can the school be improved?”   Their mantra is “we will work together.”

Good Proposal Managers meet with everyone on their team frequently in addition to others who might play a role in proposal development, such as the HR person.  They ask “how can we submit a winning proposal”  and their mantra is “we will work together.”

2. Good principals create strong bonds with students and their families.

Good Proposal Managers create strong working bonds with everyone involved in the proposal effort by showing respect, by treating people as professionals, and by asking for advice.  They also create strong bonds not merely  by talking, but by doing.  They lead by example.

3. Good principals are terrific listeners and they are able to reflect on the ideas of others.

Good Proposal Managers need to be good listeners as well as good speakers.  They understand that people closest to the task often understand it best.  They frequently solicit other perspectives, reflect on these perspectives, and make changes based on what they learn.

4. Good principals tend to be humble.  The people around them do not hear the pronoun “I” but instead “we.”

Good Proposal Managers understand that winning proposals can only come through a group effort.  They work on a team and as a team and frequently use the word “we.”

Proposal Managers may have a lot to learn from successful school principals.  Creating a positive school climate and creating a positive climate for proposal development may be closely related.

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