Mental Post-Its

Thoughts, Notes and General Mental Mayhem


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National Leadership Forum: Notes and Quotes

FullSizeRenderLast week I had the privilege of attending the National Leadership Forum. My mentor Holly is the COO of Growing Leaders, who hosts this unique gathering, and this is the second time I’ve attended this fantastic event. It’s geared toward educators, administrators, coaches, and mentors, and even though I am none of those things, I still learned a lot with the theme of “Leaders at Every Level.”

If you fit any of those categories, I’d urge you to make your way to Atlanta next summer. But it will probably sell out, so plan early! And this would be a great excuse for those of you who have ongoing education budgets at your disposal.

Here are some of the gems I picked up during these two days:

Tim Elmore
  • The leader of the company is the crafter of the culture.
  • Why do we fail to develop leaders:
    • The busy myth. We claim we’re too busy and don’t have time.
      • You must schedule your priorities.
    • The treasure hunt myth. We hope we can just find and hire them.
    • The reproduction myth. But we’ve never been equipped ourselves.
      • We teach what we know, but reproduce who we are.
    • The maintenance myth. We’re satisfied with just plugging holes.
  • When an org or school fails to develop good leaders:
    • It’s a failure of systems.
    • It’s a failure in culture.
      • “When a flower doesn’t bloom, you fix the environment in which is grows, not the flower.” – The Vibrant Mind
  • Common org cultures:
    • Toxic culture
    • Distant culture
    • Fun culture
    • Confused culture
    • Stagnant culture
    • Blind culture
  • The truth about culture:
    • All teams have a culture, by default or design.
    • People are carriers of culture, good or bad.
      • “Let’s hire the culture we want. Gifts can be cultivated.”
    • Some teammates are more contagious than others.
    • There are as many cultures as there are managers.
    • The culture affects behavior more than anything else.
      • “Culture eats strategy for breakfast.” – ?
    • A leader’s job is to cultivate a healthy culture.
      • Build a healthy culture and it will grow.
    • They do this through their habits and attitudes.
  • The ultimate job of a leader is to create more leaders. They do this by building a system and culture.
  • Hanging on the wall isn’t necessarily what’s happening down the hall.
  • Your org is telling a story…not unlike a movie. And it has a soundtrack. You have:
    • A script (your words)
    • Acting and blocking (your behavior)
    • A sound track (your culture)
      • What’s yours? Did you write it or let it happen?
      • It can make or break the movie.
      • Like your culture, the sound track provides the feel of your story.
      • If we’re not careful, our sound track can ruin all we’re saying and doing. (ex: Ms. Doubtfire cut to be a horror.)
      • If we’re intentional, our sound track can enhance all we say and do.
  • At Growing Leaders, we’re intentional about:
    • Mission and values
    • Vision and objectives
      • 1% can change the 99% (ex: MLK)
    • Brand personality
    • Tweet flavor (social media)
    • Inside “rules” for outside “reputation”
    • Our physical environment
    • Differentiators
Dr. Meria Carstarphen – Superintendent of Atlanta Public Schools
  • Brought in after the APS cheating scandal.
  • You have no idea how good/bad the situation actually is until you’re inside the culture/org.
  • Access to quality education at every level, age and zip code changes lives.
  • Born in Selma, AL, and family still lives there.
  • There are people meant to make the changes. I am that person.
  • Culture is usually the last change we make.
  • “Where the needs of the world and your talent intersect, there your vocation lies.” – Greek philosopher?
  • Express empathy and give people a chance. Don’t live in fear.
  • She is active on social media, plays with the kids, gives parents and kids her cell phone number.
  • Tell people when they do something right, not just when they do something wrong.
  • Put a succession plan in place way before you think of leaving.
  • Leaders should bring out the strengths of those in their care.
  • You can’t let sabotage stop you from doing the right thing.
    • And as a leader, you can’t let the sabotage into your heart and head, or it will effect your culture since it starts at the top.
  • Don’t wait till your kid is in school to help shape the school. Join committees and be a part of things that will help create the school you want your kid to attend.
Gene Smith – Director of Athletics for Ohio State University
  • Create an environment for constant communication.
  • People will forget what you said or did, but never how you made them feel.
  • They have a structured development program for everyone, and know where they want to go in their job and life.
  • Stay true to your values above everything else. I own my integrity.
  • Learn to confront in a timely manner. When you have the backbone to stand up for your values, you create respect, despite any backlash.
  • Make sure your people get their rest and vacation.
  • They call their coaches “teachers.”
  • Instead of calling the people listed as references, call the people below and around them to see how they’re treated. Hire for character.
  • Their student athletes go through trainings to set them up for life and character, not just football.
  • A title doesn’t make you a leader.
  • Never forget your custodian! They make your world go.
Holly Moore – VP of Growing Leaders
  • Change fatigue is real.
  • “Emotional sickness is avoiding reality at any cost. Emotional health is facing reality at any cost.” – M. Scott Peck
  • All of us have ways we take in and evaluate information.
  • Myers-Briggs is the DNA of your personality.
  • Where do you get your energy: E or I
  • How do you process info: S or N
  • How do you make decisions: T or F
  • How do you prefer to live: J or P (greatest cause of relational disharmony)
  • Insecurity in a leader is toxic.
  • Leadership comes with a microphone.
  • Five voices: Pioneer, Connector, Creative, Guardian, Nurturer
    • Teams should have a variety of these, and respect for each other.
    • I’m a Creative! (INFJ)
    • Nurturer
      • Always cares for others, but can stuff feelings to make peace. Make sure you are heard too.
    • Guardian
      • Believes change is necessary, but can come across as overly critical. Look for ways to compromise. Share your feelings before your questions.
    • Connector
      • Whatever’s needed, you have a source. Great collaborators. Can become passive aggressive or withdrawn if you sense rejection. Become more self-aware when you sense feelings of rejections, and process them.
    • Creative
      • Never satisfied with the status quo. It can always be better. Communication and function bed when you know your contribution is valued. The word “can’t” isn’t in our vocabulary. Can fail to celebrate the 90% achieved, and focus on the 10% not done. Can be paralyzed by perfectionism. (F) When you’re stressed, you become The Hulk. (T) When you’re stressed, you’re a sniper. Speak up sooner. Don’t build up “retaliation rocks” or stuffed feelings. Feelings aren’t buried dead, but buried alive. Resist perfectionism.
    • Pioneer
      • Anything is possible! Visionary and courageous. But you can fail to hear all the voices, or have a “back me or fight me” mentality. Stop and listen before reacting. Find a safe place to process.
Judith J. Pickens – Senior Advisor, Youth Advocacy at Boys & Girls Clubs of America
  • All young people are at-risk today.
  • Five key elements to help kids thrive:
    • Safe, positive environment
    • Fun
    • Supportive relationships with caring adults and peers
    • Opportunities and high expectations
    • Recognition
  • Prioritize for a prosperous future:
    • Academic success
    • Good citizenship and character
    • Healthy lifestyles
  • Seven states have more than 20% of their high schools are considered “drop-out factories,” which graduate less than 50% of seniors: SC, FL, NV, GA, NM, NC and MS. Mississippi always comes in last on education surveys.
  • What you doing that’s life-changing, generation-changing or transformational?
  • Children often take their queues from their teachers and parents.
  • Statistics go up exponentially for the success of kids when they are connected to their world and a caring community.
  • “Our Kids: The American Dream in Crisis” – book by Robert Putnam
Austin Moss – Director of Player Engagement at NFL
  • Whatever you do, do it with excellence.
  • His job is to help players transition well after the game as well. Average career of a player is three years.
  • Works with the development of high school and college student athletes.
  • All employees go through domestic violence training.
  • NFL has different service and celebration activities.
Tim Elmore
Digging Wells Before You’re Thirsty
  • The need of the hour is 1) more and better leaders, and 2) a relevant equipping process to prepare those leaders (staff and students).
  • Trains and Tracks – Tracks may look confining at first, but they’re the path that make trains go.
  • Our world needs graduates who 1) solve problems and 2) serve people.
  • What we believe about leader development:
    • It’s an inside job before it’s an outside job.
    • It’s a process more than an event.
    • It’s a right-brain function before it’s a left-brain function.
    • It’s more caught than taught.
    • It’s done in small groups more than big groups. Circles not rows.
    • It’s more about a disposition than a position.
    • It’s learned through both uploading and downloading.
    • It’s about an experience not just an explanation.
    • It’s about relationships before it’s about results.
    • It’s about service before it’s about success.
  • The top-down funnel for events and activities: (creating bridges between levels and gently push them as far as they’ll go)
    • Attraction – Had to be interesting to people
    • Involvement – Getting known by others
    • Service – Had to do something
    • Leadership – Now they get to be in charge
    • Multiplication – Leading leaders
  • The Big IDEA
    • All great training contains four thoughts.
    • I – Instruction (They need conversation.)
    • D – Demonstration (They need it observation.)
    • E – Experience (They need participation.)
    • A – Assessment (They need evaluation.)
Tim Elmore: A Leadership Cult or Culture: Cultivating an Environment of Growth and Leadership in Your School or Organization
Josh Bledsoe – FFA COO
  • By 2050, the world’s population will reach 9 billion. We need to double our food supply to feed them.
  • Career development, personal growth and advocates for agriculture – new mission
Tim Elmore:
Cult or culture:
  • Cult – Leadership is all about them. (Hansen and Karish)
    • insecure, control issues, ego
  • Culture – Work that wants to live sole for something bigger than themselves.
    • Community of shared qualities that foster change.
  • Every culture possesses shared values, shared customs and a shared language.
    • The same can be true for org culture.
  • Cultures don’t change without something to gain.
  • The two great motivators are pain and gain.
  • People on a team become carriers of the culture.
  • A leadership culture is an environment that contagiously affects people to think and act like authentic leaders.
  • If you could create a culture, what words would you use to describe it? How would you describe your current culture?
  • “Success without a successor is a failure.” – Romanian proverb
  • You can only change about 20% per year in an org, and only 20% of the people will lead the charge.
  • You’re more likely to act out the change than talk out the change.
  • “Some say it is unfair to hold disadvantaged children to rigorous standards. I say it is discrimination to require anything less–-the soft bigotry of low expectations.” – George W. Bush, campaign speech before the NAACP (2000).
Ken Blanchard – Consultant, Speaker, Author
  • “The One-Minute Manager” – his first big book
  • “The Generosity Factor” – another of his books
  • Effective leadership is all about managing people’s energy.
  • Take 30 seconds to greet people like you’re looking for someone’s energy. Take another 30 to greet people like they’re long-lost friends.
  • Your beliefs drive your behavior. Your behavior gets you results.
  • Being an effective leader:
    • Servant – It’s not about you.
    • Steward – You don’t own a thing.
    • Shepherd – Everyone is important.
  • Servant leadership gets the best results.
    • Leadership is about going somewhere.
  • Mission – What you do
  • Vision – Where you’re headed
  • Values – How you get there
  • Goals – The means to the end
  • Your job is to help the people under you win so they can help your customers win.
  • Have employees rate themselves regularly, and the manager agrees or disagrees. The manager needs to help them try to get an A.
    • The end result needs to be clear, and the manager helps them get there.
  • Transformational leadership starts with self leadership.
    • Then one-on-one.
    • Then team.
    • Then org leadership.
  • Catch people doing something right.
  • “In the end, everything goes back in the box.” – John Ortberg
  • Are your people culture builders or culture busters? If you let the latter stay, you’re not staying true to your company values.
Wayne Hammond – Resiliency Initiatives 
  • Stop looking at what’s wrong with people, and focus on what’s right with people.
  • “85% of positive change comes from being a relationship that’s meaningful to you, and talking about something that matters to.” – his friend.
  • Measure resiliency. (a strengths-based culture)
  • Help teachers learn to be coaches in the classroom.
  • Resiliency is a by-product of culture.
  • The starting point in their potential. Their strengths not weaknesses.
  • We medicate kids into the behaviors we’re looking for.
  • Girls develop fine motor skills before boys, which is what is rewarded in schools.
  • Listen to someone’s story, and you’ll find out what’s important to them.
  • Three evolving challenges: Academics, Culture, Life Skills
  • Resiliency helps kids navigate risk, not avoid it.
  • Mot kids don’t know what their strengths are.
  • The four phases of transformational change: Connect, Inspire, Build and Empower
  • When you don’t give up, you cannot fail.
  • “If you think our future will require better schools,you’re wrong. The future of education calls for entirely new learning environments.”
  • “If you think we will need better teachers, you’re wrong. Tomorrow’s learners will need guides who take on fundamentally different roles.”
  • “Start by doing what is necessary,then what is possible, and suddenly you’re doing the impossible.”
  • Onboard education – sayhello@meritocore.com
Kyle Stark – Assistant General Manger, Pittsburg Pirates
  • Their mantra is to change the world by baseball.
  • Voted in the Top 5 for “best culture in MLB.”
  • Always try to get better.
  • Three mindsets to build a culture of leadership:
    • General
      • The top matters, from an assumption of responsibility.
      • It’s not about the position, but being intentional with their influence.
      • There’s not any one style.
    • Gatekeeper
      • The leader polices what/who comes in and out.
      • The defender of the culture.
      • Chase “fit” at the expense of “talent.” Hire for the people who say “we” over “me.” Hire difference-makers.
      • More time on the front end saves you more time on the back end.
    • Gardener
      • Help everything grow.
      • Servant leader.
      • An environment without stress/risk is stagnant.
      • It always starts and ends with relationship.
      • You’d rather see a sermon than hear one.
      • Be relentless, and be obsessed with it.
  • Education, acquisition, execution
  • The best thing about events is to inspire people to get back to the grind and do your work even better.
  • Adversity helps you clarify if you really believe your values.
  • The stronger your culture, the more risk you can take and feel confident in doing so.
Tim Elmore – Where do we go from here?
What you can do when you return home:
  • What’s in my control?
  • What’s out of my control?
  • What’s within my sphere of influence?
  • Pour into your employees and “middle management” because they are the face-to-face for your clients, students, players, etc.
How to spot a leader early:
  • Intrinsic signals: (PRIDE) perception, responsibility, initiative, dissatisfaction, energy
    • Some of these may start out negative, and need to be redirected.
  • Four common ways to begin the leadership journey:
    • Gifted to lead
      • Habitual leaders. Help them steward it well.
    • Situated to lead
      • Leaders need to help kids find their situation
    • Positioned to lead
      • It has to be handed to them. They need to be authorized.
    • Summoned to lead
      • They’re upset about something, and need to be the one to fix it. They’re problem solvers.