Sunday, September 2, 2012

Summarizing Opening Day 2012

"Aspire to serve like the great Gandhi"
This year, I really wanted to do something outrageous and different to start the school year to emphasize a fresh start. I feel we have accomplished that. Just watch the two clips below this post (in order: the Extravaganza then watch my YouTube "Captive Post, Extravaganza Gone Too Far Spoof). We had fun, used the latest technology to generate interest around our Tuesday open day event.

David Tilton, CEO Atlanticare
This year, more than any other, my approach to leading is simple - Service. I read a book recently entitled "The Servant" by James Hunter. This book was given to me by the senior leadership team at Atlanticare (Hospital System). Atlanticare was recently awarded the Baldrige Quality Award and as such are experts in quality. Dr. Moore and I were able to get an hour meeting with their CEO, David Tilton and his senior leaders. During this meeting we asked questions but more importantly listened to their story. For all involved on their side, this journey started back in the 80's. At that time, David ? said a successful day was not being fined by the health department for a violation. As they put it, it was not a lot of fun to work for Atlanticare during that time. Despite their early challenges, there was something about this group of leaders that was determined to improve their reputation and more importantly the quality of care for their patience. Together, they embarked on a journey to become world class - sound similar? Yes, MPS is on a similar journey to become a world class school district. Similarly to Atlanticare, our challenges are great but so is our resolve to become the best.

I mentioned earlier, my approach is based in service - the book which was given to me by Atlanticare, helped guide their journey and I feel strongly it can help ours as well. To serve means that as superintendent, I make sure my senior leaders have everything they need to get the job done - they in turn make sure the building leaders have what they need - the building leaders do the same for the teachers - and the teachers for the students. The primary point I learned in this book is that in order to lead one must serve. And serving does not mean giving  your employees or customers everything the 'want' but rather what they 'NEED'. Hunter makes the clear point, that it is not the leaders role to give employees everything they want, like 50$ an hour wages - although that may seem nice, what they really need is sustained long-term employment at a fair wage - giving them what they want would actually put our organization out of business and not respect their real needs. I am committed, more than ever before, to serve my employees' needs and therefore serve our customers' needs. A want is a wish without regard to the physical or psychological consequence. A need on the other-hand is a legitimate physical or psychological requirement.

This year, in whatever you do, think about serving your customers' needs well.