I don’t know if it is because it is basketball season, but stories from coaching and reffing have been popping up in my head in relation to leadership. As I was listening to someone tell another story about the “squeaky wheel that gets the grease”, I thought about the coaches you would pay attention to when I was officiating basketball, and why you would really listen.
I remember one game in particular, where we were discussing the game plan as officials before we started, and my partner said, “the coach on the visiting team doesn’t say much, but when he does, you need to listen because it is probably legitimate.” The coach did not argue every call they didn’t like, but they chose to use their voice when they thought it was imperative. As hard as it is to admit as a former official, there were many coaches that did the exact opposite and were constantly complaining about every single call that was not in their favour. In a tense environment, it is hard to acknowledge everything coming your way, and the more spread out you are, the harder the job becomes to do well. Constant complaining is no longer feedback or “picking your battles”, but it can simply become noise that many choose to drown out.
I have read so many articles written on dealing with the “squeaky wheel”, but there are few that discussing how not to be that person. In a time where a lot of things are either changing or need to change in education, it is easy to complain about how fast or slow things are going, but after awhile, I know that commentary can go unheard if it is just a constant noise. In the last little while, I have really tried to think about what is important to bring up and push, and what is not necessary at that moment. There have been times that I wondered how to deal with the squeaky wheel, but I am also thinking about making sure that when I do say something to others, it doesn’t simply become “noise”.