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Leading to Reform: April 21

This week’s how to find some optimism coming out of the events of last week, dealing with email, the best and worst principals and a few trends in leadership. As always, we link to an array of columns and pieces spanning the ideological spectrum on leadership and reform.

A Week for Grit and Optimism
Last week was a new experience and a long, hard one leaving me glad it is behind us. Alan Borsuk writes in the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel that the basic, important traits of grit and optimism in children and adults can help move us forward after Boston, Texas, and an Elvis impersonator gone bad. Borsuk captures it nationally, locally and personally.

I think we can all agree it was a tough week. But what is Borsuk’s take-away?

It is not to give in to despair. It is time to pursue positive paths - to have faith, in several senses of that word. To do less is to feed a bad future.

Parents, hug your children. You don't know what can happen any time, but you can only do right by giving them what they need today, including emotional nourishment.

Being resilient does not mean we won’t experience difficulty, tough times or question if we can help others be successful despite what we saw and felt last week from the carnage of the past week. Being resilient means looking at all this and saying. I choose to go forward and do better.

How can you show grit at a time when the news can drain all your energy? How can you be optimistic in a week when a bomb while waiting to cheer for his father kills an 8-year-old boy, Martin Richard? Or, when so many other horrible things occur?

Because you have to, for yourself and for your children.

Among the traits Borsuk singles out is curiosity, self-control, conscientiousness, optimism and one he labeled grit -- in fact, it's in the subtitle of his book, "How Children Succeed: Grit, Curiosity, and the Hidden Power of Character."

Learn more at the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel…

Email Anxiety: Your’s, Mine and Our’s
One of the classic frustrations of modern life — sending out e-mails and hearing nothing back or knowing – I have to respond and I have not.

It’s not just e-mails. Unreturned phone calls, texts and messages via social media can be just as irritating. I’m going to concentrate on e-mails because for most people (teenage sons excepted), they are the most common tool of business and personal communication.

A large part of the problem, said Terri Kurtzberg, an associate professor of management and global business at Rutgers Business School, is that in face-to-face or phone conversations, “it is clear how long a silence should last before you need to respond,” she said. “There’s no norm with digital communication.”

I know I struggle increasingly with email, keeping up, tracking responses and always sensing I can do more or haven’t done my best. Share your thoughts on how to manage the relentless email incoming and outflowing in the comments below.

Meanwhile, read more at the New York Times...

Principal’s: The Weak, The Good and The Golden
In her April “One to Grow On” column, Carol Ann Tomlinson a professor at the Curry School of Education, discusses different types of principals she's worked with -- "the weak, the good, and the golden."

Those she cannot forget were "cut from a different cloth," she writes. Tomlinson goes on to share the stories of four particularly memorable leaders who did action research before the term was coined, who created opportunity where "desperation should have ruled," and who never put kids second.

Learn more at ACSD’s Educational Leadership blog…

Seven Leadership Trends for Today
Leaders looking for meaningful growth are all about investing in their people to cultivate an engaged workforce, and ultimately, achieve higher sales and a stronger bottom line. Here are seven trends we’re watching:
  1. Uncertainty is the new normal. Don’t get used to it. Deal with it.
  2. The management talent shortage is intensifying. Weak and ineffective leaders abound. Recently, former teacher colleagues began taking note of their district leaders going from meeting to meeting in a rabble of two or three -- their words. Where it once took only one administrator to attend a small meeting, it now takes two or three District leaders to manage or engage. A picture says a thousand words, including a lack of joy, dishevelment, and confidence. Schools deserve better even if the talent shortage is there. Good leaders are out there. However, they are in high demand and choose where they can work now.
  3. First-line leaders matter. These are the leaders on the ground – doing the work. Leading with hearts and hands and make all the difference. How good are your First Line Leaders?
  4. Organizations that focus on people-leadership practices will reap rewards. Developing leadership and retaining it is what good organizations do.
  5. Employee engagement will continue to be a key concern. Real engagement, not contrived. Engaged employees make the difference and the best leaders find engagement a necessity in deciding where they serve.
  6. Leadership is becoming more collective and the best have developed these skills to a fine art.
  7. Boot-camp training is out. Leadership and merging business, strategic and educational leadership is where it is at.
If organizations can implement these trends into their initiatives, they’ll achieve an even more than planned.

Articles for the Week:

"A mere friend will agree with you, but a real friend will argue.” --Russian Proverb.”

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