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. 

One Thing Series: Being a Present Leader w/ Jon Rennie — #onethingseries

One Thing Series: Being a Present Leader w/ Jon Rennie — #onethingseries

Man the ship and bring her to life. ~ First traditional order as an active unit in the Navy

Jon Rennie is a Business Leader, Author, and Speaker. He is Co-Founder, President, and CEO of Peak Demand Inc., a global manufacturer of products for electric utilities. 

He served as a Naval Officer on Nuclear Submarines during the Cold War and has been leading industrial businesses for more than 20 years. 

He is passionate about leadership and employee engagement. His articles and blog posts have been read and shared all over the world. He believes that Leadership can make a significant difference in the performance of any organization.

His latest leadership book, I Have the Watch: Becoming a Leader Worth Following is an Amazon bestseller.

Key Thoughts from the Interview:

  • Jon provides incredible insight into how the absentee boss leads from their comfort zone. 
  • When asked who he follows to learn and grow, Jon didn’t hesitate to acknowledge the impactful work of Coach Bru
  • You have to hear why he gets up at 4:00AM every day. 
  • Jon describes how a ship is nothing more than cold metal in a harbor and that it’s the crew who brings a ship to life. Listen for what he wants to continue to do and how he wants to grow.
  • Don’t miss what she says about his Dashboard University.
  • Lastly, Jon covers some of his fascinating life story; he reveals, in the end, that leaders don’t have to know all the answers. 

Jon’s interview is packed full of practical ways to become a more present leader. We hope you enjoy this interview as much as we did! 

Please follow, like, and comment. Use #onethingseries and #SH302 so that we can find you. For more great leadership content, follow theschoolhouse302.com

Joe & T.J.

Review and Reflect: Growing Mentally Stronger Every Day — #reviewandreflect

Review and Reflect: Growing Mentally Stronger Every Day — #reviewandreflect

Model for Mental Strength

This is TheSchoolHouse302’s monthly #reviewandreflect, wrapping up our focus on Mental Strength

Major Takeaway for this Month:

Problems can be overcome by having a powerful purpose.

  1. Stay positive by visualizing and anticipating a better future. 
  2. Be rational by breaking down the situation so that you can understand each aspect of the problem to respond appropriately.
  3. Remain focused by knowing where you are going and how your daily contributions are meaningful and impactful.

Three Minute Challenges

Throughout the month we offer 3 Minute Challenges to develop the skills necessary to be mentally stronger. Identifying a goal is critical, but it’s only valuable if it is supported with decisive action. 

How well did you do on the challenges this month?

Staying Positive

I’ve identified one key area of my life that I want to focus on and improve. I know if I grow in this area it will impact many others.

Remaining Rational

I tried Box Breathing when I started to feel a little overwhelmed or anxious?

Staying Focused

I Identified one thing that I should do every day to stay focused and build resilience.

Great Leaders Are Avid Readers

One of the most powerful ways to fuel your thinking and continue to grow is to be a voracious reader. Below are the three must reads we’ve featured this month.  


What an expert has to say about mental strength:

We were thrilled to interview Amy Cooper Hakim this month. This powerful interview reveals how we can view situations practically and rationally. We all know how hard this is to do when we are confronted with some very tough issues in life, both personally and professionally. 

What we’ve realized here at TheSchoolHouse302 through our interview with Dr. Cooper Hakim, the books, and other research is that developing mental strength is an ongoing process that requires effort and dedication. Like most things in life that are worthwhile, our efforts must be geared towards progress not perfection.

That’s our Review and Reflection on mental strength

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.

Avoid Blurred Vision by Harnessing the Power of Focus for Mental Strength — #TheThreeMinuteChallenge

Avoid Blurred Vision by Harnessing the Power of Focus for Mental Strength — #TheThreeMinuteChallenge

One word comes to mind when we think about mental strength: resilience. The immediate question, though, is how do we develop this incredible quality? The ability to bounce back, get up when you’re down, or pivot to something new during the most challenging times is a critical skill for leaders.

Quite frankly it’s not just a skill, it’s a mindset. The belief that our purpose is greater than our issues, and that the only way to persevere is to stay focused, is what allows us to make a truly meaningful impact. This doesn’t mean that we ignore reality, but rather embrace the words and wisdom of J.K. Rowling: “rock bottom became the solid foundation in which I rebuilt my life.”

Developing our mental strength requires focus. This means that we must always focus on our current situation, focus on our future, and focus specifically on how to become stronger mentally between now and then–for the sake of now and then.

  1. Single out one thing in your personal or professional life that will ground you to move forward regardless of the circumstance. This can be a loved one, your faith, or your belief in humanity. This is the basis for your need for mental strength.
  2. Identify something that typically detracts you from staying focused, derailing your attention despite your best efforts. This might be social media or something else that keeps you from remaining diligent. This is the thing that keeps you from being stronger.
  3. Pick something that you should do every day to build your resilience and focus on what matters. For example, exercise matters. Whether it is for physical or mental fitness, there are things we must do routinely to develop our mental strength. This is the strategy you’ll use to be more focused and mentally strong.

Pro Tip: Find the learning opportunity in every situation. Everything we encounter in life presents us with an opportunity to learn. We’ve often heard the need to “find the good in every situation,” but if we are being real, we have to admit that there are situations where “good” just isn’t available, but learning always is. This quote by Canadien Poet, Shane Koyczan, sums it up: “if your heart is broken, make art with the pieces.” When we focus on learning, we grow stronger for ourselves and others.

Reach out and share your story with us.

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.


3 Books You Need to Read to Grow Mentally Stronger — #readthisseries

3 Books You Need to Read to Grow Mentally Stronger — #readthisseries

For the second time ever, we’re posting a written #readthisseries. We’re practicing social distancing so we didn’t get together to film. It’s a serious time for all of us, and we pray for our nation and everyone around the globe. As we follow and abide by recommended health practices, it’s an opportune time to read. Below you will discover our book recommendations on the topic of mental strength–something we’re covering all month long. It’s moments like this, when we are facing a true emergency, that we need to be at our best. 

Our first recommendation is Working With Difficult People by Amy Cooper Hakim. This book is perfect. Considering that much of our work at a distance these days requires us to connect with one another in new ways, but it’s tough. This book provides great strategies for handling people “without losing your mind.” You can buy it here.

Our second recommendation is an incredible book by the great Dale Carnegie. How to Stop Worrying and Start Living is a game changer. Carnegie has left us with riches in the form of words. What we love about this book is that it tackles the complex topic of worry. Read this book to gain perspective and to learn to live in “day tight compartments.”

Our final recommendation is Learned Optimism by Martin Seligman. This book is our Mac-Daddy. Dr. Seligman is the father of positive psychology, and we are big fans of his work. What we think you will love most about this book is the techniques he provides for changing your own mind–an absolute must read for leaders! 

A Reader’s Tip: If you find it hard to build time into your busy day, especially if you’re working from home with new demands, schedule it. Growing as a leader is intentional. To do so, you need to work at it. Reading is just one strategy, but like anything else worth doing, it takes time. If you’re not finding the time to read, be purposeful with fitting it into your day by placing a hold on your calendar. 

If you’re at home because of social distancing, use some of this time to read. Let us know what you think of these three books or just give us a shout about what you’re reading to learn to lead better and grow faster. 

Last thing, the first person to contact us via Twitter, using #readthisseries, will receive a copy of Passionate Leadership. All you have to do is tweet, “I am a passionate leader” and we’ll send you a copy. 
Joe & T.J.

Powerful Tools for Staying Rational in Tough Times — #TheThreeMinuteChallenge

Powerful Tools for Staying Rational in Tough Times — #TheThreeMinuteChallenge

Feelings are invulnerable to rational thought. ~ Stephen King

“The sky is falling.” We would love to think that irrational thinking, fear, and panic, are reserved for only the young or immature, as in the case of the timid and frightened Chicken Little. Yet, we know better. On some scale, large or small, we’ve all fallen victim to irrational thinking. The Chicken Little fable, passed on through the centuries, is intended to guide us as a reminder that bravery and courage are needed during tough times. Whether through the worries of everyday life or the horrors of war, we need stability. The ability to remain rational in the face of challenging times requires mental strength. 

Mentally strong individuals see situations for what they really are so that they can respond appropriately. Chicken Little’s fears were not real. Yes, an acorn fell from the sky, but Chicken Little’s panic prevented the chick from knowing what really occurred. In our own lives, we do experience situations that are real and very scary. COVID-19 is an example of how our lives are upended with a threat that can be deadly. The challenge for leaders is in moving forward, with poise and calmness, during this pandemic and beyond so that our “new normal” is productive rather than just disruptive. 

The key to being rational when everything seems irrational is in having specific methods to use, naming your pain-point, and reminding yourself about your actual circle of control. Take the following 3-minute challenge to realize how that works for you. 

We all need tools that allow us to take the necessary steps to remain in control. It’s critical that leaders respond to situations effectively, regardless of the circumstance. There are three important steps that all of us can take to remain strong and thrive in the most difficult scenarios, now and in the future.

  1. Identify 2 specific methods that work for you to help regain your center and experience a sense of calmness and balance. Personally, we are fans of Box Breathing
  2. Provide (for yourself) a description of exactly what is bothering or frightening you in any given moment of time or in general as you read this post. Put a name on that specific emotion or fear. Naming the emotion allows you to bring it forward. 
  3. Remind yourself about true control. The only thing that we can ever really control in life is our own efforts, attitudes, and behaviors. The reminder can serve as the center of your breathing or other technique from #1. 

Tools I Use to Regain Peace of MindCommon Issue(s) that Frighten or Cause AlarmWhat I Am In Control of Each Day
Box BreathingBecoming Ill and Unable to Serve My Family  Creating a Healthy and Nutritious Diet for Strength of Body and Mind 

Pro Tip: Take it slow and be patient. If you are new to deep breathing techniques, don’t rush the process. Reactions may range from feeling dizzy to forgetting what number you’re on in the box. Don’t worry about that. Accept the truth that everything of value takes time and lean into the process of learning to master your method. 

Reach out and share your story with us. We love to hear from our audience. 

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.