Byron's Babbles

Schools For All Citizens

fileOn this President’s Day, 2017, I am reminded that there are those who believe people are now judged by the content of their character rather than the color of their skin. I want to believe this too, but know that the question of race runs much deeper than this. Others would contest that racial identity still strongly influences many aspects of their lives in American society. The question that is still causing me pause is “How do we reconcile such opposing opinions?” Furthermore, I need to make sure that I constantly remember to consider that all students have tremendous potential and most, regardless of race, are school dependent, and underachievers. Additionally, I really believe that many of the staff I serve, again regardless of race, have huge potential and many times are underachievers. I have a strong belief that race does not cause achievement differences, but how we structure the education and the pedagogy we use for teaching.

The real problem is low quality instruction for classes of lower skilled, underachieving students. Differentiated teaching is very difficult and presents a challenge to mixed ability groupings. Equity for me means that we are making sure that every student has the same high quality instruction. It also means that I continue to learn and remove my own and the school’s as a system implicit biases to make sure we are not grouping students incorrectly and making sure we are meeting the student where he/she is. As a school leader I must remember the school as a workplace is the most important place for teacher training/learning/and induction.

When discussing equity in education I believe we must first address the difference between equality and equity. I believe the definitions set forth by the Center for Public Education (2016) do an adequate job of capturing what I believe and read: Equality in education is achieved when students are all treated the same and have access to similar resources. Equity is achieved when all students receive the resources they need so they graduate prepared for success after high school. It is very important to recognize that equality and equity are not the same thing. When dealing with issues of equity we need to use data driven decision making and transparency as keys to success. I also believe we need to shift school and district level foci to external benchmarks as points of comparison, instead of inter-group comparisons in the home community. One of the pieces of the Every Student Succeeds Act that I really value is the breaking out and analyzation of more sub-groups.

“One fundamental aim of our democracy is to provide an adequate education for every person. Our educational systems face a financial crisis. It is deplorable that in a Nation as rich as ours there are millions of children who do not have adequate schoolhouses or enough teachers for a good elementary or secondary education. If there are educational inadequacies in any State, the whole Nation suffers. The Federal Government has a responsibility for providing financial aid to meet this crisis.

In addition, we must make possible greater equality of opportunity to all our citizens for education. Only by so doing can we insure that our citizens will be capable of understanding and sharing the responsibilities of democracy.

The Government’s programs for health, education, and security are of such great importance to our democracy that we should now establish an executive department for their administration.” ~ President Harry S. Truman in his 1948 State of the Union message to Congress , Jan 7, 1948.

I do not believe we have gotten to where President Truman wanted us to be in terms of education. It is interesting to me we have researched, written and debated about for years the problems of race, poverty, and public education. These issues have been studied by academics and fueled by talk radio, television, and politicians which serves as a place for us as citizens to argue, debate, and complain about who is right or wrong and who needs to change. All of this has caused me think about the questions of race as related to education and see that what we now call problems are simply symptoms of something deeper.

What I believe we need to be asking is about a breakdown in our communities and education, not viewing as a problem. If we think of race as a problem then we will only be looking for symptoms. Instead we need to be thinking about what is possible and what can we create together. If we continue to look at education in the context of a set of problems to be solved, we may actually limit any chance of the future being different from the past. We need to be having the courageous conversations as a community to develop ways in which all school dependent children are provided the opportunities needed in a great education.

I believe that community health, educational achievement, local economic strength, and other measures of community well-being are dependent on the level of social capital that exists in a community. We need to create communities where citizens have the experience of being connected to those around them and knows that their safety and success are dependent on the success of all others. I believe as Peter Block does that “A shift in the thinking and actions of citizens is more vital than a shift in the thinking and action of institutions and formal leaders” (Block, 2009, p. 31). We need to continue to find ways to bring communities of people together to work for continuous improvement of our schools and the systems with which we evaluate those schools.

Reference

Block, Peter (2009-09-01). Community: The Structure of Belonging (p. 31). Berrett-Koehler Publishers. Kindle Edition.

 

Dad & Lad Time

Posted in Agriculture, Agriculture Science, Coaching, Inspirational, National Farm Machinery Show, Spiritual by Dr. Byron L. Ernest on February 19, 2017

I really believe that the kind of man a young boy becomes, is dependent on what his father taught him during moments spent together. Keep in mind here, my post is only about the father/son relationship and time spent together. Time spent bonding with our children teaches him positive principles, instills honest values and virtues, and presents countless life lessons, or learned knowledge, along the way.

To do this, we must simply help our sons cultivate their own interests and encourage their wandering spirit. My son, Heath, and I had just such an outing yesterday. We attended the National Farm Machinery Show in Louisville, Kentucky. It’s the largest of its kind. 850 exhibitors covered 1.2 million square feet of floor space in the Kentucky Exposition Center as the National Farm Machinery show continues to be the largest indoor farm show in America. 

For 52 years, the National Farm Machinery Show has offered the most complete selection of cutting-edge agricultural products, equipment and services available in the farming industry. I have been to the show for most of those 52 years of shows because my dad went to them all and always took me. Business professionals from around the world gain knowledge and hands-on access to various technological advancements needed for the upcoming farming season during the four-day show.

Robotic Feed Bunk Pusher

We spent time looking at the newest precision equipment and discussed how that was responsible and important for being good stewards of our planet. We were amazed at the milking robots and barn cleaning robots. Heath wants one, by the way, but it ain’t happening because we are still teaching work ethic on our farm, too. We literally went through all 850 exhibits and it seems, had a conversation about each. I love the international aspect of the show. It gives Heath and I the opportunity to interact with agriculturalists from around the world. The ripples of this coming together will bring about positive social change in agriculture.

Above all, this father-son activity works well as a platform for instilling values and teaching lessons with my son. Sometimes, the message is subtle, but that’s often how a lasting impression is made.

What lasting impressions are you making?

Get People Talking, Not Just Walking!

Kaleidoscope: Delivering Innovative Service That SparklesKaleidoscope: Delivering Innovative Service That Sparkles by Chip R. Bell

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

By using the metaphor of the working end of a Kaleidoscope, this book teaches us about the core characters of value-unique service: enchantment, mercy, grace, trust, generosity, ease, truth, alliance, and passion. Just like the colorful glass pieces in the end of a Kaleidoscope, the core characters don’t change, but can be moved around to fit the needs and personal development of team members in order to deliver great service experience.

~Dr. Byron L. Ernest

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Delivering a Sparkly Lake Lure Experience

Guest post by Chip R. Bell

We checked into the Lake Lure Inn. Built in 1927, the antique North Carolina hotel served as command central for the making of the movie Dirty Dancing. You now can stay in the Patrick Swayze Suite or the Jennifer Grey Suite. Furnished with exquisite period furniture and meticulous attention to detail, the surroundings make guests feel elevated, enchanted, and enriched. If the experience were an object it would be a kaleidoscope!

We had dinner in their Veranda Restaurant overlooking the lake, only a stone’s throw away from our table. The staff was all locals from the small mountain town. They reached way beyond their plain heritage in a noticeable effort to create a sense of elegance and worth. After seating us at our reserved table, the maitre d’ presented the menus and wine list, and then graciously said, “Hope ya’ll enjoy”––not a phrase you’d hear at a five-star restaurant in Boston or San Francisco. There was an earnest effort to take the experience much, much higher than you would get at Nettie’s Diner down the street where the wait staff simply performs their tasks.

The difference between the Lake Lure Inn and Nettie’s Diner came primarily from a deliberate attempt to not take the customer for granted. Someone decided that this classy hotel setting should come with an equally classy guest experience. Knowing they could not afford to import a Ritz-Carlton Hotel–trained wait staff, they entrusted their valuable reputation to young people recruited from the local Burgers and More. Then they trained them to not take the guest for granted but make their experience consistently and perpetually as elegant as the old hotel.  

The next morning we were in too much of a hurry to wait for the hotel’s Sunday brunch, featuring eggs Florentine and fresh mountain trout. So, we stopped at Nettie’s for scrambled eggs, bacon, grits, and biscuits. The food was just as we expected—completely routine, plain vanilla, nothing out of the ordinary. As we looked at the Lake Lure Inn in the distance, we suddenly realized that, had we stopped at Nettie’s first when we came to town, the diner might not have seemed so plain vanilla. The Lake Lure Inn had altered our service expectations and Nettie’s would never be the same again—nor, would any other service provider for that matter.

Do all customers want every service experience be a Lake Lure Inn moment? Maybe not, but most customer definitely want something special. Give your customers a Lake Lure experience and watch them “check-in” with you again!

Chip R. Bell is a renowned keynote speaker and the author of several national best-selling books. His newest book is the just-released Kaleidoscope: Delivering Innovative Service That Sparkles. He can be reached at chipbell.com.

Leaders Doodle

My Doodles From A Task Force Meeting

We need to see doodling for the remarkable tool it is and learn to use it to its full advantage. Doodling allows us to access parts of our minds that are not available otherwise, and that leads to insight. There is research that shows that children who are presented with visual information have a better understanding of the subject matter. Furthermore, these kids showed more of an understanding when they actually create their own visualizations of what they learned. We are all better at connecting the dots when they literally take a pencil and connect dots, or doodle whatever comes to mind when thinking about a topic.

Drawing with pencil, pen, or brush on paper isn’t just for artists. For anyone who actively exercises the brain, doodling and drawing are ideal for making ideas tangible. In order to encourage doodling in meetings, retreats, and professional development events I put white butcher paper sheets on the tables, a box of crayons, and a small container of colored markers to use for doodling. Then there other details, like getting small flower vases and the flowers. These may seem like little things, but you have to understand that creating the perfect environment is crucial to convening great conversations. 

Recall a time when you had a great conversation where real learning or new insight occurred—what enabled that to happen? In this way, participants have the opportunity to participate in an environment where the emotional context and framework support innovative thinking. If you can design the physical space, the social space, and the information space together to enhance collaborative learning, then that whole system turns into a learning system.

As a side note, many of our presidents, like the rest of us, doodle. Dwight Eisenhower drew images of tables, pencils, and nuclear weapons. A Herbert Hoover doodle provided the pattern for a line of rompers. Ronald Reagan dispensed cheery cartoons to aides. John F. Kennedy reportedly doodled the word poverty at the last cabinet meeting before his assassanation. 

Are you encouraging your team to doodle?

Blooming Leadership: Got Flowers?

When planning big events, retreats, or task force meetings flowers should always be on the table. Flowers are every table conversation’s must-have accessory. Flowers have a place as the focal point in the middle of the table. According to a study conducted by Harvard Medical School, the right blooms may offer the perfect pick-me-up for attendees who don’t consider themselves morning people. So when you’re putting together your plans for the workshop, professional development, task force setting, be sure to include bright blooms front and center — it could have a big impact on the outcome of your meeting. 
Why Flowers?
Now when you think of putting flowers on tables you may think that it is a crazy idea and no one will really pay attention to the flowers in the meeting, but it has been proven that flowers can help the mood of the meeting and add a cheerful tone to any type of meeting. Just by adding flowers to your meeting tables can help you to make a long lasting impression on your clients and anyone else that might come to a conversation hosted by you.
For a team meeting, a floral arrangement put in the middle of the table can make the atmosphere more friendly and welcoming. Choose bright colors for the flowers and types of flowers that are cheerful, such as tulips. If the arrangement is to be placed in the middle of a meeting table, keep the height of the arrangement low enough that the participants can easily see each other around the table and conversation is not hindered by the flowers.
Conversational leadership is an art, not a science. Use your own creativity when setting up the room. In addition to flowers, I like to put butcher paper on the tables and provide crayons and markers for doodling, taking notes, and graphic recording. Be sure to encourage people to write, draw, or doodle on the tablecloths in the midst of their conversations. Often these tablecloth drawings will contain remarkable notes, and they help visual learners link ideas. 
The flowers on the tables creates a special ambiance. They provide a focal point. Rigid positions seem to drop away as people listen together in order to discover creative connections. The flowers give everyone at the table something in common. At a task force meeting I hosted yesterday, I asked participants to comment during our +/^ session on the flowers. Everyone had actually thought about the flowers. Thoughts like, “I wonder when the Lilly’s will bloom,” to “I’m going to match my crayon color to the flowers,” to “Im glad the flowers are not blocking my view to the person on the other side.” Bottom line is they noticed and likened the flowers and they had served as a focal point. Flowers help us focus when you’re not talking and are listening together with others focused on the ideas in the middle of the table.

I believe flowers help us focus on opportunity and fuel energy. What do your tables look like?

Can You Let The Authentic You Out?

Authentic Stamp Showing Real Certified ProductToday, according to Adam Grant, a professor of management and psychology at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania and the author of a new book, Originals: How Non-Conformists Move The World, we are in the Age of Authenticity, where “be yourself” is the defining advice in life, love, and career.

Authenticity

Authenticity means erasing the gap between what you firmly believe inside and what you reveal to the outside world. As Brene Brown, a research professor at the University of Houston, defines it, authenticity is “the choice to let our true selves be seen.”

We all have developed social filters or self-controls that prevent us from saying whatever may be on our mind at the time. If we expressed our true self and all the unfiltered thoughts that pop into our brain, we would probably be in a state of constant conflict and turmoil. Some things are just better left unsaid.

Self-Monitoring

How much you aim for authenticity depends on a personality trait called self-monitoring. If you’re a high self-monitor, you’re constantly scanning your environment for social cues and adjusting accordingly. You hate social awkwardness and desperately want to avoid offending anyone. But if you’re a low self-monitor, you’re guided more by your inner states, regardless of your circumstances.

Studies have shown that high self-monitors “advance faster and earn higher status, in part because they’re more concerned about their reputations. And while that would seem to reward self-promoting frauds, these high self-monitors spend more time finding out what others need and helping them.”

I would argue that this style reflects an insightful and empathic view of what’s happening to those we work with.

Rather than selling out, it’s a way to demonstrate how you can contribute to the good of the team and others along the way. This reflects positively on how you are viewed as a collaborator and a teammate. It does not mean that you live your work life in the selfless pursuit of the common good; it means that when what’s good for you, your team, and the organization are aligned, everyone wins.

If being authentic and a low self-monitor demands a greater level of self-disclosure about your feelings on a situation, then I can see the potential risk. I find that a candid appraisal of the impact of various decisions can be refreshing and stimulate good dialogue, but overly emotional responses get awkward and can stifle discussion.

Grant suggests that we focus on being sincere rather than just authentic.

I would also suggest we should make every effort to be sure that we are consistent and congruent in how we connect with others.

As I reflected upon this interesting perspective, it occurred to me that high self-monitors must have well-developed emotional intelligence and are probably highly empathic to those around them. Instead of focusing on how everything affects them and what they need, they first tend to focus upon the following questions regarding others:

  • Why are they saying that?
  • What are their needs for this effort or project?
  • What would a good outcome look like for everyone involved in this discussion or project?
  • How can they contribute in a manner that allows me to learn and grow?

Borrow and try to incorporate those styles as you grow and develop yours. Your ultimate transformation will always be the addition and subtraction of those behaviors and styles that work best. It does not diminish or sell out who you are, it’s just part of everyone’s life journey.

Ask yourself:

  • Since you are not always the best judge of the impact you have on others, do you regularly ask for feedback in a manner that is efficient and effective for all involved?
  • Do you regularly seek to understand before you worry about seeking to be understood?
  • Do you exercise appropriate caution about how you present yourself to others on social media? Do you allow inappropriate social media tidbits to contradict the authentic self you are trying to project?

I look forward to your thoughts and comments.

****

Willy Steiner is the President of Executive Coaching Concepts, an executive coaching services firm dedicated to assisting senior executives in taking their individual and organizational performance “TO THE NEXT LEVEL”. He fine-tuned his skills in leading organizational change, building high performing teams and in devising innovative incentive systems with General Electric, RCA Corp. and Galileo International. Assisting executives in driving change by creating urgency, focus and alignment, with a keen eye for cultivating and sustaining necessary relationships, is an ongoing focus of his work. He is an expert in guiding organizations through complex international mergers and divestitures, blending distinct cultures and supporting growth in international markets.

For more about Willy, his new book, Discover the Joy of Leading: A practical guide to resolving your management challenges, and business, visit executivecoachingconcepts.com.

Listening as a Principle for Authentic Community Engagement

Lead with Listening Listening is a neglected skill, especially in change efforts.  Often the leaders’ emphasis is on communicating a decision to stakeholders. When listening campaigns are con…

Source: Listening as a Principle for Authentic Community Engagement

Lady Gaga Walks The Walk

indexI can’t wait for Lady Gaga’s half time show of the Super Bowl Fifty One tonight. Most of you know I am a huge Lady Gaga fan. This fandom started back in 2010 when I had the opportunity to see her in concert in Portland, Oregon. I was in Portland for a conference and sat down at a table for a dinner with six women who I did not know. They apologized that they would be leaving the dinner before it was over because they were going to see Lady Gaga. I probably said something super intelligent like, “Awesome, wish I was going so I didn’t have to sit through this dinner” (sounds like me doesn’t it?). Then one of the women said, “Hey we are going with a group of college sorority sister friends and one can’t go now at the last minute. Would you want to go?” Now, anyone reading this that knows me knows that I’m not turning down an adventure, no matter what it is. I was in! The rest is history, I have been a Lady Gaga fan ever since.

Now I know Lady Gaga causes controversy, her music might not be your cup of tea, but it is certain that you will be familiar with the girl from the Lower East Side of New York who in a few short years transformed herself from Stefani Joanne Angelina Germanotta into one of the world’s best-known musical performers. This post is about Lady Gaga – leader that walks the walk.

“When I wake up in the morning, I feel like any other insecure 24-year old girl. Then I say, “Bitch, your Lady Gaga, you get up and walk the walk today.” ~ Lady Gaga, Rolling Stone Interview June, 2010.

I love the fact that Lady Gaga walks the walk. There are many leadership lessons we can learn from her. When it comes to authentic leadership, Bill George identifies five dimensions and their respective characteristics that someone must develop in order to be an authentic leader (George, 2003). The five qualities authentic leaders demonstrate are:

  1. Understanding their purpose
  2. Practicing solid values
  3. Leading with heart
  4. Establishing connected relationships
  5. Demonstrating self-discipline

indexLady Gaga has been referred to as the queen of the outcasts because of her support of individuals who ride the boarder of social outcasts and underdogs. As everyone knows, Lady Gaga is far from what most people call “normal” and as a result suffered much bullying growing up. Propelled by her own experiences, Lady Gaga made it her purpose to help others rejoice in their individuality and not feel like outcast. In just this alone you can see the five qualities of authentic leaders being displayed.

Actually there have been many case studies done on Lady Gaga as a leader, including ones done by the Harvard Business School. Additionally, a case study done   by Jamie Anderson and Jörg Reckhenrich of Antwerp Management School and Martin Kupp of ESMT European School of Management and Technology dives into the idea of leadership projection. The concept of leadership projection is an integrative approach of communication, behavior and aspiration that provide a leader with wide recognition across an industry or sphere of public life – in the case of Lady Gaga, social change. An important element of leadership projection is the ability of an individual to project herself into a future role that is much more influential than the current state – again, this describes Lady Gaga perfectly. Leadership projection is very much about followership; after all, a true leader only exists if he or she can excite loyalty in others. It involves a communication approach that typically integrates three universal story lines to excite and gain buy-in from followers:

  1. Who am I – how life experience has shaped my individuality and character
  2. Who are we – demonstrates and guides the values and behaviours of a group
  3. Where are we going – explains what is new, and creates a sense of excitement about direction.

Because of Lady Gaga’s display of the five dimensions of authentic leadership (George, 2003), walking the walk of the three principles of leadership projection, and the number of lives she has changed because of her efforts, it is safe to say that Lady Gaga displays the characteristics of what I consider to be a true leader. I cannot wait to watch her half-time show of the Super Bowl later this evening.

Reference

George, B. (2003). Authentic leadership: Rediscovering the secrets to creating lasting value. Jossey-Bass.

Leading Conversations 

I continue to be amazed at how many people espouse to want to have great conversations and be a conversational leader, but really can’t help themselves from becoming a pontificator and problem solver. So many leaders leap right to answering the questions themselves. There are many reasons for this, but I believe for many it is just ego of hierarchy – he wants to be seen as the smartest or person who solved the problem. Authentic conversation that deepens a group’s thinking and evokes collaborative intelligence is less likely to occur in a climate of fear, mistrust, and hierarchical control.

I believe everyone is a leader. Everyone has the right, responsibility, and ability to be a leader. In fact, I believe everyone has the obligation to be a leader. We all need to lead from where we are. How we define leadership influences how people will participate. In my world with educators, teacher leaders yearn to be more fully who they are—purposeful, professional human beings. Leadership is an essential aspect of an educator’s professional life. This is why I spend a great deal of time working directly with our rising teacher leaders in our Focused Leader Academy. 

We are building an organizational community for thinking more deeply together about key strategic questions. It has been my experience that results do come from the questions. The results lie in the personal relationships, the knowledge, and the mutual caring that gets strengthened in people’s conversations together about the questions, along with the discovery of their own answers.

What kind of conversations are you leading?