Teach & Serve III, No. 19 – Humility

Teach & Serve III, No. 19 – Humility

December 13, 2017

I want humility to be the heart of my servant leadership. It is the key.

Over the course of the past few weeks, I have had opportunity to consider – deeply – what I believe are the core qualities that make up a good leader, a leader that truly serves others. I have had hours of conversation on the topic, have spent hours in preparation for those discussions and have given hours of reflection following those talks.

As one might imagine, this has been a wonderful pursuit for I truly enjoy discussing educational leadership and I find myself further and more deeply energized the more fully the topic is explored.

At one point in these conversations, I was asked to distill good leadership to one quality – the quality I believe is the most essential in an excellent educational leader.

That was a very good question and one that, perhaps I should have taken more time to answer than I did. The reality was, when I was asked the question, one quality immediately came to my mind and was out of my mouth before I knew it.


When I consider my leadership journey and all the experiences – wonderful, terrible and everywhere in between – that journey has afforded me and I reflect on the most salient takeaways I have gained, humility emerges at the top of the list of the most critical qualities of a leader.

It would take much time for me to enumerate the many lessons I had to work through which helped me learn that I want and need to keep humility at the center of my leadership. I could discuss the times I thought I knew better than the wisdom of the room, the times I got ahead of myself and ahead of process, the times I was embarrassed by my lack of knowledge and was afraid to admit that I was not the smartest person in the room and that I did not have all the answers.

I have blogged about many of these experiences in the past. Each and all of them have taught me that the key component of my leadership and the quality I strive to keep foremost in my approach to it is humility.

It is unwise to be too sure of one’s own wisdom said Gandhi. If that is true, and I believe that it is, it is wise, then, to embrace the wisdom of others and to do so in humble humility.

I want humility to be the heart of my servant leadership. It is the key.

EduQuote of the Week: December 11 – 17, 2017

Human Rights Week

Human rights are not only violated by terrorism, repression or assassination, but also by unfair economic structures that creates huge inequalities.

– Pope Francis

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Superheroic Leadership Vol. 1 No. 9 – Jedi Hubris

Superheroic Leadership Vol. I * No. 9

Jedi Hubris

Superheroic Leadership is a light-hearted examination of what superheroic figures have to teach about leadership and what I have learned from their adventures.

I know more than I want to know about The Last Jedi. When you run in the circles in which I run, information about upcoming movies is hard to avoid. I have been in a media blackout for over a month on this film and I still know too much!

But there is one thing I know about the Jedi that I have known for a very long time. I have known this since I was a kid.

The Jedi are pompous jerks.


Think about it. They know all – or say they do. They claim to have access to special powers which you cannot access. They cut themselves off from personal attachments. They see the future but do not share their insights. They twist the truth to suit their needs (“what I told you was true from a certain point of view” anyone?).

And they kind of lord all this stuff over everyone with whom they interact.

Do you know any leaders like this?

Look, I like Luke and Mace and Obi Wan as much as the next geek but, come on!

The Jedi simply are not great leaders.

We learn more about leadership from them by not acting as they do.

In our leadership, a red light should flash when we feel as though we know all. We should hear warning sirens when we think we have access to things others do not and that is what makes us leaders. Likewise when we cut ourselves off from colleagues – from those we lead – we are headed down a bad road. And if we do not share all we know about what is coming in our institutions, we are more in love with the idea of leadership that we are with actually leading. Finally, when we twist the truth to influence those around us, we are on very thin ice from a prospective of effective leadership.

The Jedi are good. The Jedi are powerful. The Jedi helped save the galaxy a couple times.

But the Jedi are jerks. Hopefully we, as leaders, are not.

Teach & Serve III, No. 18 – There Are No Leaders Without Followers

Teach & Serve III, No. 18 – There Are No Leaders Without Followers

December 6, 2017

Our work reaches beyond us. It reaches through time. It reaches into the future.

If you are reading this blog, you are likely a school leader, a teacher or administrator. A further supposition is if you are reading this blog (and you are not my mother – Hi, Mom!), you are reading this blog because you think about your leadership, you reflect upon what you do and why you do it and it is also likely that you hope to improve.

Thinking about and reflecting upon our roles as leaders is a necessary part of our improvement process but we have to be careful not to simply think about what we do and how we do it. To be the best leaders we can be, we should spend a great deal of time considering those we lead.

A good leader understands that establishing rapport with those who are being led is a critical and necessary step in creating an environment wherein a leader can effectively serve. In order to foster legitimate rapport, a leader must establish community, interplay and trust with those being led.

A mistake that average leaders make is to assume that their position ensures that those being led will follow, that the title they hold is enough to inspire fealty, that the role they play is sufficient to get those being led to fall in line.

If that is you, good luck. You may well be able to drag people along with you because you are The Leader, but the experience of those you lead will be painful and they will not have loyalty to you but only loyalty to what you represent – to your position.

Excellent leaders understand this. Moreover, they would be concerned if they are followed simply because of their title or their position on the work chart. Leaders I wish to follow know that who they lead is at least as important as how they lead.

Understanding this is part of how they became excellent leaders in the first place.

EduQuote of the Week: December 4 – 10, 2017

Recipes for the Holidays Week

You don’t have to stick with these recipes. They’re guides. As I say, they’re a way in. Have fun with them. It’s an easier way to cook in a busy life, once you get the hang of it.

– Sally Schneider

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