Byron's Babbles

The Sheer Guts of Leadership!

Posted in Education, Education Reform, Educational Leadership, Global Leadership, Leadership, Learning Organization by Dr. Byron L. Ernest on October 10, 2015


It’s hard to believe it is already time for Lesson #2 in our learning with John Manning in The Disciplined Leader. Without courage it is impossible to focus on what really matters (Manning, 2015). In my case of having now taken on the exciting and important work of leadership of two failing schools, I can tell you courage (or just sheer guts) is a necessary prerequisite skill. Courage is necessary just to get me through those days when I say, “What the heck am I doing here!” You ever had one of those days? If you haven’t I honesty feel sorry for you because you truly have not been in what Theodore Roosevelt called the “arena.” His entire thought is in the picture above. Doing significant work that matters puts us in that “arena” and makes us vulnerable and the focus of our critics. I love how Manning (2015) puts it: “…great leadership isn’t about facing fears but taking positive action in spite of your fears” (p. 17).

disciplined-leaderManning (2015) gives us three great ways to find our “sheer guts:”

  1. Look the Fear in It’s Face. In other words, recognizing your fear and then determining what you need to discipline in order to act against the fear. In my case I know I need to study to obtain current information, pertinent data, facts, figures prior to a media interview, panel discussion, presentation, or speech to overcome any fear of not knowing an answer to a question.
  2. Create a Plan of Attack. In my case I have trusted professionals I can go to, as advisers, to help me analyze what information I might need and help me to obtain the information I need for the example I used above. Then I study! But, as Manning (2015) points out: “to admit you do not always have the answer is more a show of strength than weakness” (p. 19).
  3. Acknowledge When You Succeed. I learned a long time ago that we need to learn to be nice to ourselves. In other words we need to show compassion for ourselves when we are not perfect, make mistakes, or when things go well, too. Scrutinize and self-reflect on what went well and how we made that happen and how to repeat the process.

Comfort.2In the “Take Action” part of this week’s entry, Manning (2015) advises us to look to a role model for courage. That leader for me is Indiana Speaker of the House, Brian Bosma. He has taken many courageous stances during his career, but when it comes to education, he has an unwavering belief in School Choice and doing what’s right for Indiana’s children. These are things that I also believe very strongly in. When the Speaker appointed me to the Indiana State Board of Education I asked him what success in that role would look like to him. He had a simple, three word, but very powerful answer: “Consensus to Implementation.” Think about this answer. Really, doesn’t it take a great deal of courage to go through the process of reaching consensus and doing the hard work of implementation. This was a tremendous leadership lesson for me and I use it daily in evaluating myself and other leaders I come in contact with. The Speaker modeled this when he formed his Education Kitchen Cabinet this past year to act as a sounding board on education issues. It was exciting to experience him actively listening and processing all of the different views and opinions. Whether you agree with Speaker Bosma’s or my core beliefs or politics is really irrelevant here. The most important lesson here is that he models the three ways Manning (2015) has described having what I am calling, “The Sheer Guts of Leadership.”


Manning, J. (2015). The disciplined leader: 52 concise, powerful lessons. Oakland, CA: Barrett – Koehler Publishers, Inc.


2 Responses

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  1. […] Click here to read “Civilized Disdain Vs. Political Correctness.” You can also click here to read “The Sheer Guts of […]


  2. […] by a man, Speaker Bosma, who has had a great deal of influence on me (to read about that, click here) to another man, Dr. Helveston, who would influence me immensely in just the few minutes of […]


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