Byron's Babbles

Leadership Heroin


Empowered Teachers for Action with Speaker of the House Brian Bosma

Yesterday was one of those incredible days in the life of a school leader. In the morning I was able to spend time with several teachers from our own school as well as many others from around the state as part of a program developed by one of Hoosier Academies teacher leaders, Jill Landers, in conjunction with Tosha Salyers and the Institute for Quality Education called “Empowered Teachers for Action.” The program included five sessions, four of which were held the previous four Wednesday’s, with the goal of educating teachers on governance, policy, and how to become involved in the legislative process. The program was a total success and culminated yesterday at the Indiana Statehouse with a panel discussion with Indiana Senator Hershman and Indiana Representative Cook, a discussion about how legislation comes about, and finally a discussion with Speaker of the House Brian Bosma. It was AWESOME! I might add this was Jill’s Focused Leadership Project as part of her experience in our Focused Leader Academy (FLA).


Discussion with Senator Hershman & Representative Tony Cook

As if that were not enough to make the day complete, we were then off to school for an afternoon session with our Focused Leader Academy where they were finishing up the development of our school’s new Vision, Mission, and Core Values. Last week, academy members led a school board retreat session getting board feedback and input. Now, the team was putting the finishing touches on everything. Earlier in the day there had been discussions about what a great experience and journey this has been for our teacher leaders. In fact, I would say our leaders have had an experience of truly building a vision, mission, and core values that very few top level CEOs have ever had. One of our FLA members, Alissa Davis, even said, “You know, I go through other organizations’ mission and vision statements and try to see if I can figure out what they do and stand for, and you know; many of them you can’t.” I have to give credit here to Mike Fleisch, who has been so much more than a graphic facilitator during our journey. He has been a partner, friend, and my jazz partner. We truly have become a jazz improvisation act. I’ll need to blog about this collaboration, but I’ll just say I would not be the leader I am today without the


Mike Fleisch

collaborative friendship/partnership, and jazz act, we have developed.

Those that know me won’t be surprised when I say that during our Focused Leader Academy session I get a little, o.k. a lot, excited and animated. How can you not, with a room full of great teacher leaders? Anyway, I had just said earlier in the day that I lived for these days. I was concerned yesterday,however, because there was a snowstorm coming in and I did not want to cancel or quit early (we did not have to). You know how sometimes when weather comes in how great it is when you get part of your day back when something is cancelled or ended early? Let me tell you, I do not ever wish that on these sessions.

During the afternoon session I got all excited when the group finally put the final draft status on the vision and mission and had defined student success (you’ll have to wait for these to be revealed). Then Jill Landers looked over at me and said, “this is your heroin.” Wow, pretty profound, right! Yes, she was correct – leadership and working with our staff is my heroin. Working with our teacher leaders in the area of leadership and professional growth is a drug for me. I get all hopped up just preparing and putting the sessions together. And, at the end of the day, I go through a little withdrawal. We all laughed when Jill made the comment, but she was right. I then shared a story I had heard about why so many rock stars have drug problems – it is because of the rush and high they get being on stage with all the people cheering and then there is not that high when they are not performing and they need something to give them that high. Drugs and alcohol become the medium. Well, let me assure you I do not need the medium in between, but I think we can all understand the situation.

Last night I got to thinking about having a drug addiction-like passion for leadership. Our second President, John Adams, was concerned about this passion for leadership. He posited that leaders become so passionate and addicted to the power of leadership they have the tendency to become tyrannical. He believed that an important task of leaders was both to incite and to control human passion, both in ourselves and those we lead. Make no mistake here, however, it is the passionate leaders we need in the world. It’s the passionate people that take the biggest risks, step up to the plate, and help make the biggest leaps forward within teams, companies, and organizations. People want to follow a passionate leader. Someone who cares about not only the cause for which he or she is working, but also the other people who are involved in the effort. Passion for the projects, for the company and for the people involved are key to successful leadership.

Finally, I guess it comes down to my attitude and mindset that makes working with our future leaders one of my leadership drugs (to continue with the metaphor). I’m driven by curiosity and the motivation to learn about the world around us. As leaders, we need to find ways to connect with the world around us. Curiosity and interest are both key qualities of the best leaders I know. What is your leadership heroin?



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