Health Over Smarts, Path to Outlier Results

There are two overarching factors to a school’s success. Or should I say, two overarching factors solely within the control of school leadership:

  1. The smarts of the school
  2. The health of the school

Addressing the health of a school is simpler than addressing the smarts, but it’s not easier.

The smarts include complex data, instructional programs and systems, spreadsheets and metrics, tactics, curriculum, and plans. The smarts also include the actual collective intelligence of the staff and teachers.

While the “smarts” are complex, they are also the most tangible and easy to see. They are the brains.

Contrast that to the health of a school.

The health of the school is much more subjective. School health demands nuance and common sense. It requires discipline to execute.

School leaders who operate with a focus on the smarts will ultimately limit their schools. In the worse scenarios, a focus on the smarts will destroy a school culture.

Leaders who understand school health are poised to empower their people and reach levels of outlier success. School health is the foundation of continued professional learning and improvement.

A healthy school seeks to learn together and find solutions together. In healthy schools, teams:

  • Have the courage to work in a place of healthy conflict.
  • Trust each other.
  • Work with the integrity of purpose and shared accountability.
  • Are empowered.
  • Make decisions and act for the good of student learning, always.


Season 3 of the Mafost Mashup is about people. It’s about what’s simpler but not easier. Here’s a preview to see if it’s worth listening to.