I commend to you this NPR/TED Talk episode on leadership. I’ll say in advance that Guy Raz’s (the narrator) repetition of “change agents” and “disruptors,” as if these are inherently good things, makes me uncomfortable. The notions that we must change-for-change’s sake, “change or die,” or that disruption is inherently better than the status quo can be so vapid-really just excuses for sloppy thinking and action, often born of hubris or ignorance. I think, rather, effective leadership looks more like great gardening (says the guy who can’t tell the difference between poison ivy and a rose bush). Certainly, there are times when you need to pull something up by the roots-as Gen. Stanley McCrystal says, when “the status quo is failing” (around minute 7:30). But just as often all that needs to happen is a well placed pruning clip or training a plant with an end in mind or consistently pulling up stubborn weeds that threaten to choke the good stuff if ignored. (You can keep going with that analogy.)
What I appreciate about this episode is the variety of voices and approaches. I don’t agree with all of them completely but I’ll let you judge for yourselves. More than anything, I’m glad to lead a school that recognizes that students become leaders through practice in an intentional environment, one in which adults and students talk about leadership, students are encouraged to practice it and, yes, to fail at it to the end that they might lead more effectively the next time.
Enjoy this podcast on a walk, run, or drive some time soon!