Reflections on Your Leadership Identity

Screen Shot 2016-08-15 at 4.11.25 PMEach of us has an image of ourselves that is firmly rooted in our mind’s-eye, Most often we see ourselves through the light of our inner thoughts and intentions. We want to do good in the world. We want others to recognize us for who we are. The problem is that those around us can’t read our minds or intuit our intentions. They judge us by our words and our actions. While most of the assessments others have of us are arrived at consciously there is also a personal chemistry at work that is mostly sub-conscious . So, no matter what we may think of ourselves, others have their own opinion, Have you ever wondered what those assessment might be?

Here are a few examples of the identities of people that tend to populate our professional lives:

He’s super busy and unreliable. He may, or may not, get back to you depending on how he’s feeling. It doesn’t matter how important his response is to you.

 She’s inconsistent.  She has good stretches where she does what she says,  and then she hits weeks where she falls back to her old ways. Her good stretches usually follow a serious conversation where someone has called her out for not doing something she promised she would.

He’s a cowboy. When problems arise he tries to solve them all by himself. He doesn’t let anyone know that he’s struggling. He’ll work by himself up to the final deadline trying to get the problem solved, them let you know at the last minute that he couldn’t get it done. Since he never gives you an early head’s up that something is a problem, he doesn’t leave you with many options.

 She’s a martyr. She works long hours, sacrifices her home life, yet she never catches up or gets ahead in her work. She’s burning out quick.

He’s scatterbrained. He jokes around a lot when he’s nervous or uncomfortable. When he jokes like this he makes himself look a lot less smart than he really is.

She never follows up. She talks a good game but then quickly forgets what she promised to do.

He’s a victim. Pile it on. It just drives him deeper into despair. He definitely won’t speak up for himself and he complains a lot.

She’s a whirling dervish. She’s always on her way somewhere else. When she talks to you you’ll feel like you’re interrupting something. This makes you feel like you aren’t important.

He’s a self-promoter. You’ll never get an authentic response from him. He always insists on putting on a good front. He’ll promote the latest thing he’s doing as if he’s the only one in the world that’s doing it. He wants to be viewed as special.

She says “Yes” to everything. She may not have the capacity to do what she commits to; but she doesn’t know how to say “No”. If you accept her “Yes” do so at your own risk. Be prepared for last minute drama and crisis.

He’s a bully. No one likes working with him because in order to get things done he generally runs over those around him. He’ll blind cc the boss on memos if it helps him get what he needs. He has a wicked temper and he doesn’t like to look foolish.

She’s not trustworthy. She says what you want to hear at a meeting or keeps her mouth shut and says nothing. When the meeting is over she gives her real opinion outside the room. She always begin these conversations with “This is confidential…” She talks behind people’s backs. She can undermine any initiative by having a few informal conversations with the “right” people. 

He’s not accountable. “It’s not my job”. “You’re the boss.” “That’s why they pay you the big bucks”….are just a few of his sayings. He doesn’t even take accountability for his own decisions. He always says “I had to do this or I had to do that…” He never says “I chose to do this or that…”

She’s committed to ‘nothing changing’. She’s the person who is totally resigned to the status quo. She’s seen leaders with great ideas come and go; and things never change. She believes things will never change no matter who comes in and no matter what they try to do. She’s the person who is the first to tell you that “We’ve already been there and tried that”.

He’s afraid to make hard decisions. He has people on his staff who aren’t competent. He knows he needs to do something about them; but that might get messy and its easier to just live with things. Because he doesn’t like difficult conversations all his staff gets good evaluations whether they deserve them or not.

She has little integrity. She will say anything to sell a product or service or get what she wants. She may say she cares about her colleagues or her students but her actions don’t match her rhetoric.

 He loves to get lost in the details. Generally, he’s always busy, but little gets done.

She has to be perfect. She’s afraid to make mistakes. She takes so long to do things that no one asks her to do anything important anymore.

He’s totally disorganized. Take a look at his office, it’s a reflection of the clutter that’s filling his mind. Is it any wonder that he’s constantly forgetting, juxtaposing, and messing up?

She’s a complainer. If things aren’t running the way she’d like them to she’s not happy. She has a hard time saying “Thank you” or acknowledging the effort of others.

He’s a “first on the block-er”. His identity is built on knowing things first. It gives him a feeling of being out in front. It makes people think he’s a visionary. 

She’s a gatekeeper. She filters all the information that people have access to. She won’t let people know about some things like conferences or workshops she doesn’t like. She doesn’t like her bosses going anywhere without her. She doesn’t want them coming back with ideas she didn’t give them.

He has bad judgment. He makes the worst decisions. He always sees your point afterwards and feels bad about what he did. Don’t put him in situations where he has to think for himself.

She’s a politician. He’ll say what you want to hear. He rarely takes a stand and will switch positions based on where he’s getting the most pressure.

No one’s perfect and there are probably elements of these identities in each of us. But two good questions for us to reflect on are:  “What identity would I like to have?” and …. “What do I need to do to go about creating it?”

Pete

Relationships

Screen Shot 2016-07-26 at 11.10.53 AMIt was my junior year of high school, and Mrs. Keehan called me to her desk after English class.
“Peter,” she said, smiling, “I’ve noticed that you love to read.”
“Yes, I do,” I replied.

“I want to give you something; but before I do, you have to promise me you’ll keep it a secret.”

Her voice was soft and intimate, quite different than the voice she used during class.

“Yes, I promise.” I responded.

She opened the drawer of her desk, removed a paperback book, and handed it to me. “I picked this book especially for you. I think you’ll really enjoy it.”

I looked at the title: The Lord of the Rings.

“Remember your promise, Peter.”

“Yes…and thank you!” I mumbled as I turned and left.

I had never heard of J. R. R. Tolkien, and the first chance I got I began reading the worn paperback. I was mesmerized and fell in love with the book. It was as if Mrs. Keehan knew me and knew what I’d like. I felt special. I worked harder for her than any other teacher that year. There was no way that I wanted to let her down. After all, we shared a secret: a special relationship.

Forty years later, at my high school reunion, as a group of old friends and I sat around a table reminiscing, I broke the promise I had made to Mrs. Keehan and told the story of the secret book. My friends looked shocked. One after another, each of them who had taken her class told their own story of being called up after class, sworn to secrecy, and given a book chosen especially for them.

Mrs. Keehan had built a special bond with each of us. I don’t think the different books she hand-picked to give us were what made us feel special. No, it was the intimate, heartfelt tone in her voice, the shared secret, and the feeling I had of being special.

I don’t remember much about my junior year. Most of my teachers’ names and what they taught me has faded; but Mrs. Keehan, and the special relationship, the connection I had with her, is with me still, as it surely is with every student she taught that year—and possibly throughout her career.

Mrs. Keehan’s “secret” connection with her students reminds us that much of what inspires children to learn happens in the personal space (the “heart space”) between us and our students. Relationships are at the very heart of successful teaching; and it’s our hearts that prepare the soil and provide the nutrients for trusting relationships to grow.

An Interview with Berj Akian – CEO ClassLink Inc.

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Join me for an interview with Berj Akian, CEO and founder of ClassLink Inc.. Berj set out to improve education by creating world class technology tools for students and teachers. What started out as an effort to help one local school integrate a cutting edge technology environment became a stepping stone that led to the establishment of ClassLink, Inc. Prior to paving a new foundation for technology in the educational realm, Berj was with Technology Crossover Ventures, a leading venture capital firm. Previous to TCV he specialized in restructuring and attest services for large technology and educational publishing clients with Arthur Andersen. Berj graduated cum laude from Baruch College in New York

See The Entire Interview at A Path With Heart

Berj discusses a wide range of topics including:

The Key Elements of Effective Leaders

 

The Teacher’s Burden

 

Standards

 

See The Entire Interview at A Path With Heart

 

What is ClassLink?  ClassLink solves the problem of too many passwords, and too many files scScreen Shot 2016-03-04 at 1.16.40 PMattered about. It’s a one click single sign-on solution that gives students access to everything they need to learn, anywhere, with just one password. Accessible from any device, ClassLink is the perfect tool for ensuring the success of a 1:1 or BYOD initiative.

 

A Daydream: One to One Computing

I closed the cover of my Chromebook, tucked it into my backpack and headed off to English class. I skipped lunch today so I had time to see the MIT lecture on Mitosis and Miosis because we were going to be covering Mitosis and Miosis in Science class this afternoon. Never hurts to get a head start.

Lucky for me, Mrs. Woodruff’s English class was just around the corner from the cafeteria where lunch was just finishing up. Anyway, I wanted to get there early to ‘text’ Jamie Milledge who was helping me build out my “Fahrenheit 451” wiki.

farneheit_451.jpgJamie would be up by now. I live on the East coast and she goes to school in Torrence, California. She’s a major Ray Bradbury fan. We met up about a month ago when I found some of her science fiction writing on the Fan Fiction web page. Turns out she’s the same age and studying “451” in her English class the same as me. We FB each other all the time now.

I get to class and whip out my computer.

Jamie wassup?
Getting dressed.
Did you find the movie?
Yeah. Not easy to get.
Great.
What part do we want to use?
I love the RR tracks scene.
Where they all become their favorite books?
Yeah. So cool!
OK. I’ll upload it at lunch today.
You’re the best.

We chat until the class is ready to start.

Mrs. Woodruff is already leaning over a student helping them with whatever project they’re working on.

Last night I searched out some blogs that deal with “451″ and have added them to the RSS feeds in my aggregator. They may come in handy as we go through the book.

“Okay class, you can get into your teams now.”

Mrs. Woodruff speaks over the discussions that have already begun. I don’t know why she feels she has to say this every day because we never wait for her. We’re already in our groups.

Our group project is to build out a vocabulary blog for “451” . We each take a few chapters, find the more difficult words, and look them up online. Usually, when we do this we create a team blog where we post the sentence from the book that contains the word, as well as the definitions of the words. We organize it all by chapter. Here’s the vocabulary blog we did on our last book, “The Outsiders”.

This time, in addition to what we usually do, we decide to add some online photos from Flickr, drag them into Comic Life, and write the words used in funny contexts. Michael, our team leader is really good at coming up with the funny stuff.

(This example courtesy of Jim Coe and Tom Woodward of Bionic Teaching)

After a bit, Mrs. Woodruff asks us to close our computers and report out on how we are doing. One group has done research on all the books that have been banned over the years. Marcy plugs into the projector and shows the Censorship website they’ve created. They’ve worked with the school library media specialist, and a number of outside organizations who are very anti-censorship. I’m surprised at some of the titles on the list. I copy the URL. I want to check it out when I get to study hall later today.

Another group shows the product they are creating in response to the “451″ WebQuest they were working on. (Courtesy of Mr. Dan Thompson)

The other groups plug in to show their particular projects; but Terry’s group gets into trouble because they havn’t done much since the last time they presented. Terry says that they have been doing a lot of the work after school; but they havn’t had an online work session this week because a few of them had late sports practices. Terry’s team always has an excuse. The truth is they put in no effort. They do what they can during free time in school, but they almost never hold group work sessions at night. They’ve got to get themselves a better leader or they’re gonna get creamed at the end of the marking period.

I can’t wait to show the vocabulary site we created. Everyone laughs at Michael’s funny comments that are in the Comic Life bubbles. I also take a moment to show the “451” wiki site that Jamie from California and I have been working on. Believe it or not, Jamie has already uploaded the last scene from the 1966 movie. I click on it and play a minute or so.

Mrs. Woodruff claps her hands, “Great job! guys. Now, let’s get to our writing projects.”

We all pull our desks back a few feet from the groups we were in so we can work on our own for awhile. I pull up the draft of the paper I have been writing from my virtual locker storage space. I’m working on an essay topic from an old Regents exam. I figure it’s good practice. We write in silence, saving frequently as we have been taught to do. Mrs. Woodruff walks around giving some individual advice to different folks. I run my paper through the online Writing Evaluator. I like this because it picks up most of the simple mistakes I tend to make when I write. It saves Mrs. Woodruff some time, too.

“Class!” She says. We all look up. She walks to the SmartBoard in the front of the room and taps on it a few times. Up come the notes from last week. She enlarges the words THEME and PLOT.

“I see a number of you are getting theme and plot confused. What’s the difference between the theme and plot?”

A few brave souls raise their hands.

“You know what? Rather than doing this verbally, I want you to create a Screencast that describes the difference. Include the basic theme of “451” . I don’t need you to rehash the plot.”

Man, more homework.

Mrs. Woodruff continued, “We’re getting close to the bell, so just a reminder that I will be online for extra help on Thursday from 8:00pm till 9:00pm. Terry, I expect that at least one member of your team should be there. Your team needs lot’s of help.”

The bell rings. I sling my Chromebook into my backpack and dash out of the room. My science class is at the other end of the building; I’ve gotta hustle.

pete

Note:
This is a daydream. I’m sure there are many more creative ideas out there. What’s important is that…

The learning is active:
Engaged and empowered students AND teachers, learning both in school and outside of school, formally and informally, collaboratively and individually.
Learning partners that extend outside the classroom.

The technology is transparent: 
The Chromebook is one of a number of sub-$500, mobile, wireless computers.
There is wireless access from everywhere in the school.
There are Virtualized desktops with access to all school applications and files from anywhere, including the home.
The students and teachers have access to appropriate software.

*The Chromebook and other products used in this post are for illustrative purposes only and not an endorsement.

*Special thanks to Tom Woodward and Jim Coe, two groundbreaking educators who are making the daydream reality.

An Interview with Peter Luzmore – CEO Synthesis

peter luzmore head shotIn 1999, Peter Luzmore founded the highly successful global consulting company Synthesis LLC, which specializes in mobilizing leadership teams to produce increased levels of productivity, satisfaction and value. He is a Certified Master Somatic Coach with Strozzi Institute and has been published in an anthology entitled, “Being Human at Work”.

Peter  has held various positions in the areas of organizational design and human development. Peter started training people as a workshop designer and leader with Young & Rubican, an advertising agency with offices worldwide. He also has held the position of Director in the Consulting Division of Action Technologies working on strategic accounts for companies such as General Motors and Bankers Trust in Europe and the United States. In 1994 Peter founded Innovative Business Design which specialized in education and consulting in Business Process Redesign.

Watch the entire interview at A Path With Heart

 Mood Management

 

Enrolling Students in the Process

 

Dealing with Stress

Watch the entire interview at A Path With Heart

Contact Peter or find out more about Synthesis LLC. 

Thanks Peter, for taking the time to share your thoughts with us.

An Interview with August Turak – Author of “The Business Secrets of the Trappist Monks”

 

monks coverJoin me for an interview with August Turak, author of “The Business Secrets of the Trappist Monks”. Augie discusses his spiritual quest, how it led him to Mepkin Abbey, and eventually extraordinary business success. We discuss how selflessness and a total dedication to service can produce both a transformation of being and success in the workplace. His words are especially important for those of us who work in schools on behalf of children.

August Turak is a corporate executive, entrepreneur and award winning author who  attributes much of his success to living and working alongside the Trappist Monks of Mepkin Abbey for over 17 years as a frequent monastic guest. After a corporate career with companies like MTV, August Turak founded to highly successful software businesses, Raleigh Group International and Elsinore Technologies.  In 2000 he sold his companies to an Identify Software and the combined firms were eventually acquired by BMC Software for $150 million.  In 2004 Turak won the $100,000 grand prize in the John Templeton Foundation’s Power of Purpose Essay Contest for his essay Brother John.   He has been featured in the Wall Street Journal, Fast Company, and the New York Times, and is a popular leadership contributor for Forbes.com and the BBC radio show, Money Matters.  Turak lives on a 75 acre cattle farm outside Raleigh, NC.

 

Watch Augie’s entire interview at:  A Path With Heart

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At its heart work is a spiritual endeavor. Educators spend much of our waking lives in the classroom or at school. It’s a place where our values and beliefs are revealed and manifested for no matter how hard we may try to compartmentalize our work lives from our home lives, in truth we have only one life…and one self. August Turak takes us far beyond the typical leadership tips and techniques so common in business books to examine the mysterious inner currents of successful organizations.

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At the heart of Augie’s book is a deep rooted belief that life, and therefore work, is a spiritual quest, a yearning for transformation. He describes how “transformational organizations” …those that pursue service and selflessness as their main goal, (I would argue that schools should be exemplars of this) reap success as a by-product. By embodying our values and beliefs and pursuing spiritual growth…and selflessness, we can find meaning and professional success.

Augie’s premise is insightful and extremely relevant for educators. His amazing life story takes us behind the scenes at Mepkin Abbey, MTV, and his two highly successful software businesses, Raleigh Group International (RGI) and Elsinore Technologies to see how service and selflessness can help one thrive professionally and at the same time bring meaning to our personal lives.

Watch Augie’s entire interview at:  A Path With Heart

The Invisible Meeting

Screen Shot 2016-01-10 at 3.40.47 PMI used to prepare for important meetings by writing down the key points I wanted to convey. I’d try to anticipate what people’s responses would be and prepare for those as well. In a sense, I was trying to do as much as I could to ‘script’ the conversation. I did this whether I was planning for a ‘one on one’ or team meeting that I felt was particularly important or potentially emotional. Preparing like this made me feel safer and reduced the prospect of me being surprised. Being unprepared made me feel vulnerable.

The problem was that invariably the conversation or meeting would take an unexpected turn. Because I was so locked into my own agenda I’d get thrown off and become clumsy and stiff. I’d do everything I could to bring the meeting back to where I wanted it to go rather than pay attention to what the folks in the meeting were trying to address. Over time, forcing my own agenda on folks and ignoring their concerns eroded my team’s trust in me.

There’s nothing wrong with preparing an agenda or being clear about what we want to achieve at meetings; but I was ignoring the deeper, more important part of the meeting; the part of the meeting that was not cognitive; but affective…consequently, my ability to lead effectively was diminished.

You see there are things going on at meetings…silent, under the radar things, that are really important…whether we’re aware of them or not. Think back to a meeting you participated in that didn’t go well. What was it that made you feel that way?

Perhaps, like me, the leader…

  • was so concerned with sticking to the agenda that he cut off some important discussion without resolution.
  • had an agenda and was clearly pushing it at you
  • wasn’t really listening to you.
  • seemed to be frustrated with you when you brought up an issue that wasn’t on the agenda.
  • stated that he wanted a dialogue and conversation on the topic but did most of the talking
  • was condescending

By the way, bad meetings can happen for other reasons:

  • the meeting leader has no agenda and the conversation flails all over the place.
  • there’s no commitment to any action after a long discussion.
  • even when there is a commitment to action there’s no follow up.

The list is truly endless.

Whether we’re conscious of it or not, our team is making assessments about us and our leadership even if they never verbalize them. Our team’s mood is affected by how trustworthy we’re perceived to be, our tone, how well we listen, and how we show up as people.

Today, I realize there are two parts to every meeting. The overt content that generally dominates our agendas, and the under the radar assessments and mood of the team. I’ve  learned to prepare for both parts of the meeting; but with much more emphasis on the silent dynamics.

When I prepare for a meeting I list the outcomes that I would like to achieve at the meeting…but now I include things like:

  • I want the team to develop trust in me and/or the team itself.
  • I want to be open to what others have to say and not allow my personal agenda to close off possibilities.
  • I want to be a good listener.
  • I don’t want to be judgmental.

Once I prepare my desired outcomes I spend a few moments preparing myself.

If I want to engender trust or be open to others, I prepare by spending a few moments letting go of all my thoughts and plans and do a bit of mindful breathing, or I might engage in a personal practice I have to open my heart. I might reconnect with my life’s purpose, my beliefs, my values, and my commitments. I do my best to feel the goodness in my own core and in so doing feel the goodness of others.

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Preparing for meetings by creating an agenda using my strategic mind to identify the content that needs to be addressed; AND preparing an affective agenda that builds trust and team coherence…using my heart to see beyond the words…

…has made me a much more effective leader.

pete