What Spells Great Educational Leadership?

Question: What’s a leadership quality that you’ve found to be important in your own work or that you admire in someone else?

\r\n

Andres Alonso: You know, I’m always a little bit embarrassed about this leadership question because somebody’s great leadership asset is somebody’s recipe for destruction. Again, because so much is about context and because so much is almost a kind of alchemy between person, place, time. I think a leader has to listen, but at the same time be very certain about certain things. And I struggle with communicating that because I communicate a sense of confidence and often it is misunderstood as just doing it my way when the confidence is about authority and about pushing for the right things, but always within a frame where there's a possibility for change and for learning about what I might be missing.

\r\n

So, this is I think a funny combination of confidence and humility. It’s very much essential to leadership. I think that the good leaders have to know what their essentials are and they also have to leave margin for compromise. I think that there had to be a clear marker that is established very early on so that a community learns who the leader is. And finally, there has to be a huge element of luck in terms of what happens so that the followers who need to become leaders get a sense of the possibility of something happening that might not have been possible if that person were not at the wheel.

\r\n

If those things come together, good things happen. The leader also, I think, has to be often still. When everything else is sort of spinning, somebody has to be still. Other times the leader has to be the storm because then everyone else will be still when there's a need for great motion.

\r\n

So, I mean, those are the things, you know, it’s - I think I work in a very intuitive way within those frames. I work unbelievably hard, so when people - I never want to be in a room and not be the most prepared person in the room. By now because I’ve been doing this for such a long time, I don’t need to prepare in the same way. I’ve seen many things, but it really bothers me if something emerges in the conversation and at some level I feel that I haven’t prepared for it.

\r\n

So, all those things matter. By far, however, and I’m not sure why I didn’t say this, the most important thing is having good people around you. So, there's an essential quality that is about being able to spot, attract, make very talented, dedicated people want to buy into a vision that they share. Not your vision, a vision that is shared. And I think that’s, by far, the most important quality of all because it can never be about one person and once you leave the room, it’s somebody else who has to do the work.

\r\n

So, it’s a combination of those things, and I’ve been lucky, by the way, because I have worked with - I've learned from some pretty extraordinary people in my time.

"A funny combination of confidence and humility" makes a great leader in the school system, as Andres Alonso explains.

LinkedIn meets Tinder in this mindful networking app

Swipe right to make the connections that could change your career.

Getty Images
Sponsored
Swipe right. Match. Meet over coffee or set up a call.

No, we aren't talking about Tinder. Introducing Shapr, a free app that helps people with synergistic professional goals and skill sets easily meet and collaborate.

Keep reading Show less

Space toilets: How astronauts boldly go where few have gone before

A NASA astronomer explains how astronauts dispose of their, uh, dark matter.

Videos
  • When nature calls in micro-gravity, astronauts must answer. Space agencies have developed suction-based toilets – with a camera built in to ensure all the waste is contained before "flushing".
  • Yes, there have been floaters in space. The early days of space exploration were a learning curve!
  • Amazingly, you don't need gravity to digest food. Peristalsis, the process by which your throat and intestines squeeze themselves, actually moves food and water through your digestive system without gravity at all.
Keep reading Show less

Steven Pinker's 13 rules for writing better

The Harvard psychologist loves reading authors' rules for writing. Here are his own.

NEW YORK, NY - JULY 21: Steven Pinker speaks onstage during OZY Fest 2018 at Rumsey Playfield, Central Park on July 21, 2018 in New York City. (Photo by Brad Barket/Getty Images for Ozy Media)
Personal Growth
  • Steven Pinker is many things: linguist, psychologist, optimist, Harvard professor, and author.
  • When it comes to writing, he's a student and a teacher.
  • Here's are his 13 rules for writing better, more simply, and more clearly.
Keep reading Show less

Can the keto diet help treat depression? Here’s what the science says so far

A growing body of research shows promising signs that the keto diet might be able to improve mental health.

Public Domain
Mind & Brain
  • The keto diet is known to be an effective tool for weight loss, however its effects on mental health remain largely unclear.
  • Recent studies suggests that the keto diet might be an effective tool for treating depression, and clearing up so-called "brain fog," though scientists caution more research is necessary before it can be recommended as a treatment.
  • Any experiments with the keto diet are best done in conjunction with a doctor, considering some people face problems when transitioning to the low-carb diet.
Keep reading Show less