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Showing posts from December, 2010

Friends and Tough Questions

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I tweeted Friday night that I enjoyed having dinner with members of the 2008 All-Iowa Cohort. This tight-knit group of school leaders had again gathered to celebrate their graduation.


I learned a few things that I didn't know while I had them in class, which is probably a good thing for everyone. I also learned that in one of my earlier posts I unintentionally spilled the beans about a pregnancy in the group. This apparently caused a little disappointment among some who expected to hear this great news from a source other than The Balcony View. Hmmm. And I thought no one was reading.

As I listened to them banter and tease each other, I remembered how they challenged and pushed each other as students. After just a few weeks together, it became easy to anticipate the positions certain members of the cohort were going to take on particular issues. Exploring, unpacking, questioning, and reevaluating those strongly held beliefs became an important part of the experience.

And that got m…

Passion-Driven Leadership

It was a treat when Amy Sandvold, a former student in the UNI Principalship Program program, asked me to guest blog about being a passion-driven leader. I’ve been called a lot of things, I suppose, even today. But I welcome the label and am grateful for the opportunity. This is cross-posted at her new blog on passion-driven leadership. I remember as a college basketball player hearing my African American teammates talk about leaving their Starter jackets in the locker room when they went home for the weekend. Some of their jackets were the wrong color for the gangs that roamed their neighborhoods. As a kid from small town Iowa, that got me thinking. My first “real” job after college was with the Missouri Department of Mental Health in Kansas City. Though Sarah Palin would probably dismiss it in the same way she mocked President Obama’s work as a “community organizer,” my job as a “Clinical Casework Assistant 1” was to help individuals with serious, chronic mental illnesses navigate life…

Teaching, Coaching, Leading, Learning

This semester as I have done before, I invited UNI men's basketball coach Ben Jacobson to speak to my class of aspiring school principals, and not just because Panther Basketball is in my blood. The reason is there are so many parallels between teaching and coaching and leading a team and leading a school. Listening to Jake talk with my students for the fifth semester, I was struck by several things. Chief among them is how much leaders in other fields can learn from some, but not all, coaches. I'd be the first to say that one couldn't and shouldn't drop just any college or professional level coach into a graduate class and expect it to work. But Jake's message always does.

Since reading Reframing Organizations by Bolman and Deal, I've believed their assertion that, over time organizations take on the personality of their leaders, for better or worse. Jake's teams are as good of an example of that as I can think of. Focused, methodical, not prone to knee je…