February 14, 2015



I've read an abundance of books, periodicals, articles, blog posts, and anything else that I could read over the past 25 or so years while I've been in education. As I started down the road of a degree in educational leadership about 20 years ago, I would say that 75% of what I've read has been about either LEADERSHIP or CHANGE. In fact, there has been some great stuff about CHANGE LEADERSHIP.

Theory of an Effective Theorist

Many theories abound about how to be an effective leader – a level five leader; many treatises highlight about how to go about change so it is effective, scientific, and will last; a great deal expound about change leadership and how important the leader is to the whole scheme. I may have spent too much time reading all of these ideas — some contradict each other, many focus on the focus on people.

One Simple Reality 

If I had a theory of my own, I would say that regardless of what you do in education, no matter what your role is, or even what title you wear, the number one focus in education has to be on the people — you have to focus on kids first (that's why we do what we do!) and then on your employees. I know that Tom Peters might disagree, but his focus is always on the corporate world. Really, I read a few blogs every day — Seth Godin's, Tom Peters, and a couple of others when they are updated — and many of them focus on the aforementioned topic of leadership.

Tribes & Connections

Godin writes a great amount about connections, tribes, and bringing people together. Peters writes much of PEOPLE FIRST. As an educational leader, I have always tried to create situations where my people can be successful. When they are successful, their students will also be successful. Then, overall, the school can be successful.

What If …

The other topic, CHANGE, has as many theories as leadership. Change, however, scares people, Change frightens everyone involved in the process of change. Change is the great unknown. The fear is always "What if this doesn't work?"

I would suggest, "What if it does?"

No matter which theories you subscribe to, you always have to remember that it's the people that make anything possible. Rule number one in education is that it's about the kids; rule number two has to expand on that idea and expressly state that it's about the people. Bottom line. I've been thinking about this issue a great deal lately. With the right people in place, the systems will take care of themselves. I've often said that with the right curriculum and practices in place, standardized tests will take care of themselves, as well. An educational system is a simple-complex process. And at the heart of that process are the people.

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