Taking Our Own Advice!

You know the joke about the carpenter's house never being finished or the doctor who doesn't follow her own advice? Last month, in a flurry of work and new engagements, I realized we had the same issue at GLP as the carpenter has with his partially built home. So - in the midst of the heaviest work schedule this year - I called for a one day retreat with the team and planned it much in the same way we would with our clients.  

To be clear, I was feeling simultaneously excited and anxious about all the possibilities before us. I wanted to ensure the best work in current projects and maybe dive into some new opportunities -- but realized that to make good decisions we first needed to be more strategic about what we would do, why we do it, and how we would execute well.  I knew I needed to get out of my own head and into a dialogue with the team -- that the best answers laid beyond me. Sound familiar? It’s exactly what many leaders express when they call us for the first time. There may be a particular issue that sparks the need, but in every case our clients want to slow down, think strategically, and immerse themselves in productive dialogue with their colleagues, their boards and their communities.

What did we do? We went back to basics and created our own one page strategy draft.  Our values had never been precisely articulated so we started there.  A brainstorm on the whiteboard was the most satisfying moment of the day for me -- we converged quickly and without dissent on our five values  -- in all of ten minutes!

Here’s what we came up with:

  • People First

  • Joy Matters

  • Learn Always

  • Flexibility

  • Beautiful Work

We moved from there to our mission and vision -- and recognized that success goes something like this:  

GLP will be nationally known as the trusted partner, expert, and coach for educational and mission based organizations who want to build capacity, learn, and thrive in the face of change.

And we covered a lot more. We talked about the challenges our clients are facing and where we feel we added the greatest value. We talked about our own learning and growth, and how that happens in our work with our clients.  We pushed ourselves to make four targeted and specific choices about where we would focus our energies in the upcoming year: by 2pm we felt like we had just gotten a fresh (or refreshed) start.

Best of all, we scheduled quarterly retreats -- because we know this work never stops.  It was time to take our own advice

SUMMER 2018 READING LIST

SUMMER 2018 READING LIST

Our Summer 2018 Reading List is here and we are eager to share some great suggestions, both new and old.  As usual, some of our choices are education focused and others take a broader view to issues that we think matter for schools.  And of course, we must put in a plug for our own book coming out in mid June: Creating Schools that Thrive: A Blueprint for Strategy.

Wishing you lots of sunshine and lazy days - please let us know what you are reading!


Make 2018 the Year for Feedback

Make 2018 the Year for Feedback

Resolutions abound around January 1. We commit to all sorts of new behaviors, we set goals, and we feel the excitement of starting anew.

I’ve found that one resolution always worth making is to commit to better feedback practices. Make a commitment to request and offer feedback effectively.  If you are already doing it, how can you do it better? And if you are not doing, how do you start?

Data-driven decision making (NOT data-driven madness)

Data-driven decision making (NOT data-driven madness)

In December 2015, the cheekily named “Study of Maternal and Child Kissing (SMACK) Work Group” published a study titled “Maternal kisses are not effective in alleviating minor childhood injuries (boo-boos): a randomized, controlled and blinded study” in the Journal of Evaluation in Clinical Practice.

Although the journal is real, the study is (of course) a spoof - a mocking jab at the cool data-driven objectivity of empirical studies taken to an extreme.  

Leading from the Inside Out A Report from Leadership Lab: Cohort II

Leading from the Inside Out A Report from Leadership Lab: Cohort II

In July of 2016, GLP launched its Leadership Lab for new heads of school with the belief that a small, intimate and personalized approach to leadership preparation was needed for independent school heads. The program provides time to retreat and look inward, to build deep relationships with other leaders, and to prepare for the real work of headship. We prototyped our vision with cohort I---and this July cohort II continued this work – but with a modified design to incorporate suggestions. So together, we gathered four new Heads in bucolic Connecticut to reflect, prepare, practice and offer feedback to each other as they entered the first year of headship at their new schools. As was the case last year, cohort II was invited to be intentionally small and, though not intentional, was again all women.

Slow Innovation: What Really Drives Value in Schools

Slow Innovation: What Really Drives Value in Schools

GLP is happy to welcome Kirk Greer as a member of the GLP team and guest blogger this summer. Kirk is currently the upper school history chair at the Latin School of Chicago and previously served as its Director of Studies and Professional Development. He is also a new board member at Baker, a progressive JK-8 independent school on Chicago's North Shore.

Earlier this week, I had the chance to share a beer (or two) with a colleague who reflected on changes he had made to his communication style with students. Having read research that detailed how vital the teacher-student relationship is to the success of students of color in predominantly white schools, my white colleague invested more time in cultivating positive affect and personalizing his communication and encouragement so that he might connect more authentically with all his students.

GLP Summer 2017 Reading List

GLP Summer 2017 Reading List

Just in time for the extended summer holiday weekend, we’re excited to share with you our summer must reads!  

We’re focused on two themes this summer: 1) understanding the rapidly changing macro-context that independent schools face and 2) how schools should prepare themselves to thrive in the face of these uncertain times and re-envision teaching and learning in response to those macro-conditions. 

School Leadership in the Time of Trump

School Leadership in the Time of Trump

During one of my last years as a headmaster, the school had an interesting topic in our usual Tuesday night speaker series, which we call The Society of Skeptics. This speaker—whose name I cannot recall—was embarked on the goal of becoming a professional golfer by fulfilling the ‘10,000 hour rule’ (the theory of mastery that Malcolm Gladwell popularized in his book The Outliers). 

Notes from The Head Search Frontier

Notes from The Head Search Frontier

At GLP, we are always interested what transitions are taking place in the independent school world, particularly as we are continuing our New Heads Leadership Lab program. 

With that slight introduction, I want to report on a recent conversation Greenwich Leadership Partners had with Jim Wickenden, the veteran president of Wickenden Associates and a seasoned expert on the leadership search environment for independent schools. Throughout the independent school world, Jim is held in high regard for the firm’s successful work and his reputation for experience and understanding of the ever-evolving issues of school leadership and governance. I first met Jim as a teacher when he came to The Taft School to scout out early aspirants for leadership. Jim’s commitment to understanding not just his business but also the independent school world was impressive, so after becoming the headmaster at Blair Academy, I made one of my first off campus trips to meet with Jim in Princeton. Going to Wickenden Associates was sort of a pilgrimage both to pay respects and to glean as much as possible about the lay of the land for independent schools in New Jersey. That early venture proved quite valuable, and from that time forward Jim and I have kept in touch.

New Year’s Resolution: Change Up Your Meetings

New Year’s Resolution: Change Up Your Meetings

When do you actually look forward to going to a meeting? One of the biggest complaints we hear from educators is that they are asked to attend too many meetings that waste their time. As facilitators of meetings, we are constantly asking ourselves: what kind of experience do we want people to have; what makes a meeting valuable, productive and enjoyable?

It occurs to me that most meetings in organizations and schools originate from a logical purpose. Most of the time, they are a forum for advancing a work project, disseminating information, discussing an issue or making decisions. So why so many disgruntled meeting goers? I’ll offer three observations for school leaders.