Leading Change — #SH302

Leading Change — #SH302

When we think of the most effective leaders of all time, we typically remember the people who had the greatest impact on culture. These are the people who have created or endured the most intense changes to life as we know it, whether that be in our organizations, school systems, country, or world. The definition of leadership is influence; the challenge of leadership is conflict; the result of leadership is change. Great leaders influence change by overcoming conflict. 

But overcoming conflict is not just a price we must pay if we want to make change. It’s actually far more strategic than that. You can barrel through the resistance, but that rarely works in the long run. When we don’t follow a strict process for making change, we typically only see very incremental modifications to what we’re already doing rather than a full-scale innovation. We offer a 6-step model for leading change that works in any scenario where you plan to translate your idea from new to normal. 

6-Step Leading Change Model

Clear Vision — This is a statement about what the future should look and feel like if our goals are met. Of course, every great organization has a vision statement; this is the same thing but it’s the vision for the change initiative, programmatic shift, or new cultural norm that we want to see in place. Vision statements should always answer three questions: what do we desire to accomplish; who do we want the work to benefit; and why does it matter? 

Sample: We want all teachers to use collaborative structures so that our students learn to cooperate and communicate effectively as a college and career skill that they will need for their future success. 

Core Values — These are our 3-5 guiding principles that ground the work. They should be inspirational, recitable, and action-oriented. Core values represent the behaviors associated with bringing the vision into reality. 


We value active participation in the classroom. 

We value speaking & listening as a skill. 

We value student voice as an agent of empowerment.

Enumerated Goals — These are the points of measurement, used to assess whether or not we are making gains toward the goal. Three important concepts should be noted: 1. They should not be endpoints but rather waypoints, 2. They should act as milemarks with the ability to measure progress not perfection, and 3. Even though SMART goals are touted as comprehensive, your goals only need to address what by when


  1. All teachers will use collaborative structures at least once per daily lesson. 
  2. Our scheduled professional development time at faculty meetings will always include a demonstration of a new collaborative structure or a twist on one that we’re seeing in action (both in-person and remote). 
  3. A sampling of lessons will demonstrate that 40-60% of the time is allocated for student-talk-time. 

Research-based Methods — These are the critical practices that have demonstrated effectiveness through evidence and research in the field. As an instructional example, John Hattie, Robert Marzano, and others have published lists of effective instructional practices, including their corresponding effect size on learning outcomes. For any change initiative, the methods should be listed as success practices to be used in place of old norms and conditions. 


In the case of collaborative structures, we’re going to use Kagan as the basis for the practices that should be put in place. 

Defined Focus — Once you develop a list of methods you want put in place, that list has to be narrowed to a defined focus. If you have a list of 10-15 practices, you might select anywhere between one and three to focus on for anywhere between one month and a year. As you monitor the focus, you’ll know when it has been mastered by everyone and a new focus can be put in its place. As you shift culture, the one-at-a-time approach works far better than expecting everything and everyone to just make the change. 

Sample: RallyRobin and RallyCoach in September and October

Solid Models — This can be a visual representation of the focus items in a graphic format or even a list of checkpoints or steps for putting the focus into practice. We’re huge fans of visual models, like the one at the top of this post. That said, checklists and documented steps help people to see the process and take action versus the ambiguity in naming a practice that not everyone understands through practical application. 


Steps to implement a successful RallyRobin. 

Changing culture is difficult. We always say that the number one thing that people don’t like is change. But, the number two thing that people don’t like is the way things are. Leading a change, whether it’s thrust upon you or initiated by you, is never easy but it doesn’t have to be complicated. When you couple the above change leadership model with a communication plan, you’ll find that change can happen faster and stick better than without it. 

Stay tuned for challenges, nuggets of wisdom, reflection questions, technical tips, and the best resources for leading better and growing faster. Follow us at theschoolhouse302.com to join thousands of leaders who get our alerts, blogs, podcasts, and more.

Let us know what you think of this #SH302 post with a like, a follow, or a comment. Find us on Twitter, YouTube, iTunes, Facebook, & SoundCould. And, again, if you want one simple model for leading better and growing faster per month, follow this blog by entering your email at the top right of the screen.

TheSchoolHouse302 is about getting to simple by maximizing effective research-based strategies that empower individuals to lead better and grow faster.

Joe & T.J.

This blog post is sponsored by Principals’ Seminar. Many schools struggle as a new principal works through the learning curve, and our hearts break for new principals who are overwhelmed with information and noise, frustrated by not having the time to build relationships with staff and walking around in a constant state of fear that they are missing something. The Three in Three Principals’ Seminar is designed for new, existing, and aspiring principals and assistant principals who would like to gain 3 years of experience in 3 weeks, without the pain, risks, and time it would take otherwise. Follow the content at your own pace as you learn with others who are just like you. Click here for details. Register today to save. 

Five Important Aspects of Social Distancing and Staying Sane for Leaders — #SH302

Five Important Aspects of Social Distancing and Staying Sane for Leaders — #SH302

Special COVID-19 Post

“You never know how strong you are until being strong is the only choice you have.” ~ Bob Marley  

These are incredibly challenging times, filled with uncertainty. As COVID-19 continues to spread, the world continues to respond. We know that you’re responding too, in whatever unique circumstances are forming around you. Our prayers and thoughts are with everyone during this pandemic.

This month, we’re focused on self-improvement, and the coronavirus almost makes it impossible to ignore what it means for all of us to get better. As we learn and grow, we build trust. Trust makes our communities stronger. The definition of leadership is influence. The challenge of leadership is conflict. The result of leadership is change. We know that you’re leading through conflict toward a time that will be different than what we used to know as our reality.

As you lead forward, we thought it would be beneficial to point to some key resources for being our best selves during the outbreak. While many of us are following the advice of the CDC, and other agencies, who suggest social distancing as a mitigation strategy for the spreading of the virus, we know that leaders are taking action as best they can with whatever information they have. Leading better and growing faster is always our mantra, especially in times like this, and being informed is the number one way we lead and grow. This post is not just more information about COVID-19, but rather the critical direction that we all need for how to bring some normalcy and peace into our lives, how to continue to learn and develop as leaders, and how we can be better tomorrow than we are today. 

Strategies For Remaining Calm

Martin Seligman, commonly known as the founder of positive psychology, provides key strategies that we can use when faced with uncertainty. His advice is simple and practical. 

Check it out here in Penn Today. Great leaders will use these strategies and help others to do the same. 

Exercising Without Going to the Gym

With social gatherings being limited, people are unable to go to some of their favorite locations. This includes the gym. Maintaining a solid health regimen is critical during this time for both mental and physical health benefits. Self-improvement always includes the body and the mind.

Check out this article from Runner’s World.

Check out this article for no equipment indoor exercises.

Staying fit is important for leading well. In fact, wellness, period, is synonymous with leadership. 

Unplugging While You’re Plugged-In

We know that most of our audience is just like we are, which means you’ve been burning the candle at both ends. You’re probably inundated with texts, emails, and online meetings. Social distancing has put everything and everyone is a tech-based cloud (pun intended). That said, we need a healthy relationship with our technology, using it for the betterment of ourselves and others rather than its destructive capabilities. 

Check out this piece on realistic guidance for getting unplugged. 

Connecting with Your Loved Ones

It may seem obvious but when we’re all stuck inside we have an opportunity to connect with loved ones, especially our household family. But then we don’t. We squander the time away, keeping busy but not connecting. We have an opportunity to strengthen relationships, and great leaders always make that a priority (both with family and friends).

This article has a ton of great advice about staying social in times like this. 

Working from Home 

Companies everywhere, along with school systems around the globe, are moving to a work-from-home policy. While it’s the smart choice when possible, not everyone knows how to transition successfully to working at home. If you’ve done it for any period of time in the past, you know how hard it can be. But many industries, including education, are just starting to explore how to make the shift. 

We like this article, which covers a number of best practices for working from home. 

Finally, if you’re looking for what we think is the best resource regarding COVID-19, visit here.

We would love to hear from you regarding what you’re doing differently to self-improve while you keep your distance from others. Lead better, grow faster, stay safe. 

Joe & T.J.

Candor, Creativity, and Critical Thinking: Getting Unstuck w/ Kirsten Richert & Jeff Ikler

Candor, Creativity, and Critical Thinking: Getting Unstuck w/ Kirsten Richert & Jeff Ikler

Getting_Unstuck As we discussed the topic of creativity and we connect it to the field of education, we know that providing space to think deeply is critical. For innovation to be a norm, we need environments that support risk-taking. Feedback is also important, but it should be a conversation rather than over-prescribed recommendations. Too often, leaders associate candor with “too much telling” when it’s really about the compassion to help others improve. We hope that you’ll enjoy this podcast for a discussion of “getting unstuck,” removing yourself from a “culture of nice,” and learning to be candid and compassionate in your approach. You can listen here with Apple Podcasts, or here at the Getting Unstuck website. And if you haven’t read our book, Candid and Compassionate Feedback: Transforming Everyday Practice is Schools, you can get a copy here. You can find more on leading better and growing faster at theschoolhouse302.com. Don’t forget to like, follow, and share. We look forward to hearing from you. Joe & T.J.
#TheThreeMinuteChallenge: Don’t Limit Risk-Taking

#TheThreeMinuteChallenge: Don’t Limit Risk-Taking

Creativity Chart

It’s not because things are difficult that we dare not venture. It’s because we dare not venture that they are difficult. ~ Seneca

Organizations that drive innovation, and feed people’s creativity to think in new and challenging ways, reward risk-taking to create new boundaries. And although leaders often realize the importance of creating a culture of innovation and creativity, their day-to-day actions and reactions to the business side of things can communicate the contrary. For creativity to be a norm, people require time and space, which can quickly be compromised in any fast-paced, bottom-line driven environment. Instead of lifting the talented rebels (who were hired to catapult the company forward), leaders can put people in a position to protect the status quo, favoring basic levels of control and compliance.

It’s unfortunate, but creativity is more often stifled than sustained. Even in organizations that do well with innovation, creative minds can learn quickly that real risk-taking will only be questioned to death. Unless leaders are truly willing to support and reward risk-takers, most people will succumb to conventional thinking. In most cultures, the risk, then, becomes in taking risks versus the other way around.

The problem is that without innovation and the freedom to explore, human capacity is diminished and workforce engagement is stemmed. No one enjoys working in a stale environment with the humdrum of tedium. The good news is that it doesn’t have to be this way. With the right focus on creativity, leaders can bring innovative ideas to the surface. It starts with a creativity framework for growth through reflection and change. 

Challenge Yourself–TPA: A Framework for Growth Through Reflection

Think - Plan - Act

Think: When was the last time someone presented an idea that contradicted the current program of work? What is your general response to discord and objection? When someone does take a risk, do you admonish, ignore, or reward it? If you want others to stick their necks out for the sake of doing things differently, you have to do the same.

Plan: Pick one initiative, activity, or program that needs new life breathed into it. Assemble a team of people and push their thinking to make improvements. Then, support the ideas they generate. Being supportive of new ideas is the way that leaders model their expectations for creativity, not necessarily by having new ideas themselves.

Act: Be sure to reward risk-taking by being vocal and supportive of the people who push the existing conditions. You cannot just “allow” creative people to exist, they need explicit support. Next time someone has a new idea, use public praise to back them up.

Stay tuned for more challenges, reflection questions, leadership models, podcasts, and more by following theschoolhouse302.com. It’s our job to curate, synthesize, and communicate so that you can lead better and grow faster. In a world plagued by nothing but noise, we help you by getting to simple.

TheSchoolHouse302 is about getting to simple by maximizing effective research-based strategies that empower individuals to lead better and grow faster.

Joe & T.J.



#5thSunday: Year-End Reflection Infographic–R.E.F.L.E.C.T.

#5thSunday: Year-End Reflection Infographic–R.E.F.L.E.C.T.

Every month at TheSchoolHouse302, you get a blog post with a leadership development model, a podcast with a leading expert, a “read this” with three book selections, and a review and reflection tool–all on a particular topic of leadership to help you lead better and grow faster. Posts are always blasted out on Sundays so that leaders can think and prepare for the week ahead. In months when we have 5 Sundays, we also provide an infographic to help visualize and solidify the concept. This month, as we end our year, we want to R.E.F.L.E.C.T. on several powerful concepts to propel our success into the future of 2019. We hope you enjoy and Happy New Year. R.E.F.L.E.C.T._Infographic As always, please like, follow, and comment. If you have topics of interest, guests you want us to interview, or books that we should read and recommend, please let us know that as well. Joe & T.J.
#review&reflect: Learning to Promote Productive Disruption in Your Organization

#review&reflect: Learning to Promote Productive Disruption in Your Organization

Productive Disruption2

This is TheSchoolHouse302’s monthly #review&reflect, wrapping up our focus on Productive Disruption: Cultivating Organizational Growth through Solution-Driven Ideals. Our review and reflect offers readers the opportunity to take a deep dive into our leadership content by taking time to reflect and identify the skills you need, how you can learn those skills, and industry leaders to follow to gain greater expertise.

Skills I need…

Moving forward in a productive, efficient, and effective way is the goal of every organization. Targets are set and efforts are employed. The reality is that the path toward the goals we work to achieve is riddled with obstacles and challenges that require unique and different insights if we want to arrive at new possibilities and impressive results. The question is, how well do you create an environment that embraces ideas with the intent to birth innovation?

Review: This month we focused on productive disruption. Who better to feature than the controversial but undeniably master disruptor himself, Steve Jobs? Jobs was driven, profound in his thinking, possessed an uncanny ability to say no, and cared deeply about the collaborative process. We feature him not only because of his leadership prowess and incredible impact on Apple and Pixar, two companies where he was CEO, but mainly because of his contribution to our society. Job reminds us that the potential to disrupt is available to everyone and every organization. It is not limited to a select few, but rather to those who decide to skillfully leverage problems as opportunities by creating a culture that demands people to willingly identify and fix areas that need to be improved. This fosters an environment where innovation and ideation are the norm rather than the exception.

With a desire to understand this process, TheSchoolHouse302 synthesized the research, collected the evidence, and developed a three step process to embrace innovation and create a path toward success that everyone can follow.

Productive Disruption Model

Steps to Innovation

Reflect: The beauty of this model is that it combines proven approaches to solving issues but adds additional processes because we recognizes how those efforts are limited in solving more systemic issues throughout an organization. The first step is to Problem Solve. We promote the “yes, and” approach to collaborative problem solving because it accepts the common or typical solution and takes it a step further by asking for more. This deliberate style of collaboration requires participants to add more: more thinking + more ideas = more solutions. The second step is a little more challenging because it requires Constructive Dissonance. This is challenging because we live in a world that is very afraid to offend others, and unfortunately, we are more apt to ignore an issue than solve it if it means inciting potential conflict and inflicting emotional pain. Until we work in an environment where we can respectfully share our ideas, thoughts, perceptions, and critiques, we will limit our ability to innovate due to the invisible ceiling our behavior creates. We recognize dissonance is difficult, but it is a servant-based leadership quality; at its core lives humility, transparency, and vulnerability. If this type of work culture can be created, then the the third step of our disruption model can flourish, which is Break It. This step embraces the fact that things may be going great, but improvement and breakthroughs are achieved through risk and the desire to confront challenges as unprecedented opportunities. Incorporating Step Three into your organization requires extreme focus on three areas:

  1. How we support people.
  2. How we establish culture.
  3. How we create space for productive disruption to occur.

The following ideals are critical to building an organization that values innovation as a central purpose. These three ideals are each grounded in evidence and research, and they represent true leadership.

“Break It” Ideals Model

Three Solution-Driven Ideals

As a leader, are you willing to live by these three ideals to do what it takes to build a culture of innovation?

How do I learn those skills…

What should I read to enhance my ability to disrupt and to foster an environment where others are willing to speak out against the status quo?

Review: In our #readthisseries we featured the work of authors who clearly articulate the power of productive disruption through practical strategies and tools that anyone can adopt:

Rebel Talent: Why it Pays to Break the Rules at Work and in Life by Francesca Gino

Linchpin: Are You Indispensable by Seth Godin

David and Goliath: Underdogs, Misfits, and the Art of Battling Giants by Malcolm Gladwell

You can’t miss our #readthisseries on Learning to Disrupt and Break Rules Productively.

Reflect: Do you have a good pulse on your work environment? Do you and others feel comfortable sharing ideas? Do you and others have the opportunity to problem solve and offer different ideas?  Of the three part model for how to create an innovative environment, which area will you start focusing on today?

Great leaders recognize that ideas can emerge from anywhere and that employee voice is powerful. How well do you create an environment that creates productive disruption for the betterment of the organization?  Based on the 3-part Break It model, and using a 5-point scale, 1 being ineffective and 5 being highly effective, rate yourself:


Who should I follow…

What does an expert have to say about productive disruption?

Review: For our #onethingseries, we interviewed Francesca Gino who is the Tandon Family Professor of Business Administration in the Negotiation, Organizations & Markets Unit at Harvard Business School and the author of Sidetracked: Why Our Decisions Get Derailed and How We Can Stick to the Plan and Rebel Talent: Why It Pays To Break The Rules At Work And In Life.

Reflect: Throughout the interview, Dr. Gino emphasized the need to rethink and reframe our understanding of “rebels” in the workplace. She shares the 5 key talents that rebels possess and how leaders can encourage rebelliousness by creating an environment that inspires people to push boundaries in a positive and healthy way. Listen to the entire podcast on iTunes, onethingseries, and please rate and like (it helps).

Does your organizational culture and leadership style promote rebel behavior? Why or why not?

That’s our #review&reflect for Productive Disruption. Take a look back to take a step forward.

TheSchoolHouse302 is about getting to simple and maximizing effective research-based strategies that empower individuals to lead better and grow faster.

Please let us know how our leadership posts are working for you, what you are reading to improve yourself, and your thoughts on leadership and growth here on our blog and Twitter. Follow our #onethingseries podcast on iTunes and our #readthisseries on YouTube.

Joe & T.J.