Ode to the Squeaky Wheel

9.17.2020 Dan Ahlstrom, Ed.D.

American humorist Josh Billings (1818-1885) in his poem, “The Kicker” is attributed with the popular phrase the squeaky wheel gets the grease.  It goes as follows: “I hate to be a kicker [complainer], I always long for peace, but the wheel that does the squeaking is the one that gets the grease.” 

This phrase is often used when pejoratively describing someone who complains until they get their way. Although it is true that no one wants to be labeled a complainer, I would like to suggest that expressing your concerns in an appropriate forum and in a constructive way is not only a good thing to do but, in many instances, necessary. The idea is simple enough, if you have a concern share it, because if you do not, it may never get addressed. 

As a leader, dealing with criticism comes with the territory and even the most toxic person in your community may have stumbled onto something relevant.

A few suggestions are: 1. Remember it takes time to identify and address concerns properly. 2. Ask questions and listen for understanding. 3. Timely replies not answers are essential 4. Patience and good humor are always appreciated when dealing with difficult board.

Here at Cedar Learning, we are working diligently on improving many aspects of school leadership, from curriculum, to staffing, board work, and better communication between the school and community to school culture.  Let us help support you as an educational leader.

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