I sat down for an interview with Danny “Sunshine” Bauer of Better Leaders Better Schools recently to talk about Leadership Learning Communities. Here are a few highlights from that conversation:
MF -Why is it important for school leaders to be a part of a leadership learning community?
DSB The job’s too hard to do by yourself. If you think you can do it alone…you need an ego check.
There are 10 enemies of excellence, and one is isolation. You’re the average of the 5 people you spend the most with. A rising tide lifts all ships.
At a bare minimum, school leaders can carve out time to seek out learning communities…it’s harder to do as a leader and can be more isolating. You can’t wait for someone to bring the learning to do you. You’ve got to go out there and plugin.
MF -What is a common myth about a leadership learning community?
DSB -The first step for everybody is to dive in on social media. There are great Facebook groups to engage in. Twitter chats, Voxer…there are tons of ways to engage, and these are a great start.
The thing about social is it’s hard to share the struggle and challenges openly. Social tends to focus on the wins.
You don’t get better by always winning. You need a great rivalry…people who are going to challenge you sometimes.
MF -Let’s go back to your experiences as a school leader, what were some treasures you learned about yourself in being a successful school principal?
DSB -It wasn’t about me. If I’m not careful, confidence can go too far into ego. Doing it alone is tough…in isolation, you can’t accomplish it.
You have to inspire and motivate others to join you. You cast a vision, but the people put it in play.
There’s a quote, “The mark of a truly great leader is when the people say, Look at what we did!”
That’s when you effectively cast a vision, and slowly fade into the background.
You don’t have to have the answers. Even if you do, you don’t have to share them. Let people wrestle with the challenges your community is facing and grow capacity.
Go all in on understanding the problems, the questions. Ask great questions and you’ll become a higher capacity leader.
Deeply understand problems, and you’ll find valuable answers.
MF -What is a guiding question you have for leadership learning communities?
DSB -What can you give? Not what can you get? A great learning community contributes to each other.
Daniel E. Bauer provides many services and resources for school leaders. You can find him at the Better Leaders Better Schools Podcast and Blog.
UPDATE: November 2018.
Since this interview, Danny’s new book The Better Leaders Better Schools Roadmap has been released!
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