It is an honor to serve as the superintendent of schools for Lufkin ISD. I have spent countless hours looking, listening and learning about the school district and the community where I am committed to make a difference.
In addition to implementing my entry plan, I have been doing a lot of reading over the summer. I collect leadership books and want to share one that I feel is important. The fact is, it won’t be long before football season starts, students return to school, and Team LISD is in full swing.
In the book ‘‘Everyone’s a Coach,’’ Ken Blanchard and Don Shula share five proven secrets for motivating others to excel.
Using the word COACH as an acronym, they describe the following qualities of an effective leader: conviction-driven, overlearning, audible-ready, consistency and honesty-based. For each concept, Shula describes how it works on the football field and then Blanchard explains how to apply it to leadership in an organization.
The emphasis on the importance of being conviction-driven, which Blanchard defines as “doing the right things for the right reasons” immediately captured my attention. Leaders must have a clear idea of what they believe and be able to communicate their vision. Blanchard quotes one of my favorite scriptures from Proverbs 29:18, “Without a vision, the people perish.” As the leader of Team LISD, I must hold fast to my vision to have student-centered schools and future-ready students and stand on my belief that all students can learn. When leaders compromise their beliefs, they compromise attaining their vision.
Shula describes overlearning as practicing until it is perfect. This concept reminded me of my varsity basketball coach’s mantra, “A perfect practice makes a perfect performance.” Like Shula, my basketball coach did not accept mediocrity in practice because it would negatively impact performance in a game.
As the leader of Team LISD, I am the “coach” who monitors the performance of educators as they deliver their very best to students. The observations must include follow-up and feedback. When Shula states, “You can’t leave performance to chance,” I found myself nodding in agreement because in education, our children’s futures are depending on us.
All leaders will agree with Shula’s term for adaptability — audible-ready. Leaders must be open-minded and not get stuck with a plan if for some reason it’s not working. As the leader of Team LISD, I am going to use this concept to convey to educators the importance of being flexible, able to adapt, and knowing when to change.
Consistency in responding to performance is the making of an effective leader. Shula states that, “Good performance should always be treated differently than poor performance.” In other words, poor performance should not go unnoticed. When staff members do not perform up to expectations, negativity infiltrates the school, which in turn affects student achievement.
The final quality, honesty-based, is about exemplifying your values and acting with integrity. Basically, “walking the talk” and being credible. As I lead Team LISD, I will always make every decision in the best interest of students.
We are all leaders. As my grandmother would say, “You are the only Bible that some people will ever read.” Are we leading with conviction? Are we adaptable, innovative and ready to change? Are we consistent in our behavior and are we walking our talk?
Collectively we can make a difference. As you make plans to pick up your season tickets for Panther football, plan to support Team LISD as we prepare our students to graduate with choices and opportunities. Go Team LISD!