Riptides and School Leadership: Parallels in Power and Peril

Riptides and School Leadership: Parallels in Power and Peril

In this episode of the Leading Better and Growing Faster podcast for school leaders, Joe and T.J. discuss how school leaders can effectively manage the riptides found in everyday school leadership.

Imagine a calm beach day, preferably Savage Ditch, Delaware, where you can drive onto the beach and enjoy an incredible experience of sun and sand. Imagine this, though: you’re swimming close to shore in the refreshing water when, suddenly, a powerful current pulls you out to sea. This is the unnerving reality of an ocean riptide, and you can’t see them coming, and you can’t fight your way out of them. But did you know these hidden currents have a surprising parallel in the world of education? 

Educational leaders, much like beachgoers, can find themselves caught in unexpected challenges – swirling currents of change, budget constraints, or evolving student needs. Just like fighting a riptide is futile, these challenges demand a different strategy. 

In this podcast, you’ll learn about the following 3 Strategies to navigate the current seas of leadership: 

  1. Develop a culture of open communication
  2. Develop a culture of continuous improvement 
  3. Develop a culture of self-development

Don’t get swept away! Tune in and learn the secrets to leading through educational riptides.

This podcast offers actionable strategies for:

  • Building trust and a unified school community
  • Moving beyond the common notion that  “we’ve always done it this way”
  • Creating systems that reinforce a culture of continuous learning and growth
  • Leading by example through self-development

Our goal is to be able to help school leaders discover how to effectively navigate the educational riptides and chart a course for success in your school.

Joe & T.J. Are Now Booking Summer and Fall Events!

Space is limited, but dates are still available. If you’re ready to take your leadership skills to the next level or you want to build the capacity of the folks on your team, we have the solutions that you need. Our engaging keynotes and interactive leadership workshops are designed to equip you and your leaders with the tools and strategies you need to thrive in today’s complex and ever-changing educational environment. Contact us to learn more about our offerings and book a session for your organization today! 

A few ideas: 

  • Join one of our Mastermind groups
  • Book us for a keynote to kick off the year with your teachers
  • Allow us to train your school leaders on any number of our proven models 
  • Have us join your retreat to kick things up a notch with practical takeaways 
  • Bring us in virtually or in-person to talk about one of our books
  • Call us for something unique

We can’t wait to hear from you. 

Joe & T.J.

Demystifying Decision-Making: Exploring the Undercurrents Created By Our Choices

Demystifying Decision-Making: Exploring the Undercurrents Created By Our Choices

In this episode of Leading Better and Growing Faster for School Leaders, Joe, and T.J. discuss how school leaders must recognize how their decisions create undercurrents within the organization. 

Every decision you make at school, from offering certain foods in the cafeteria to the consequence a student receives for being late to school because they stopped for a chai latte, creates undercurrents that ripple throughout the school, like a rogue dodgeball during PE class. 

These undercurrents can have a more dramatic impact than you might think, potentially causing serious disruption. This is why we tell leaders to remember that the next time you’re faced with a school decision, tread mindfully and follow the suggestions in this episode. Your decisions can either steer the ship towards a calm and productive harbor of school pride and spirit or set sail for the unpredictable waters of confusion and disengagement.

Demystifying Decision-Making with Joe and T.J.

T.J. reminds us that our decisions are either rippling toward success or triggering negative waves of dissent. Check the books that Joe and T.J. recently recommended to school leaders

This concept reminds leaders to maintain the Power of Perception and to be mindful and aware of the present versus constantly thinking about the past or the future.

Joe outlines several initiatives that could breathe new life into schools, but they also carry the potential to fall short and leave our good intentions floundering.

T.J. dives into the Initiative Implementation Chart and quickly goes through the 7 areas and their importance. 

Last but not least, T.J. and Joe underscore the critical role of key decision-makers, including individual staff members in addition to school leadership, in making impactful choices for the success of the school and its students.

Let us know what you think by contacting us at And don’t miss our leadership newsletter every week by subscribing on the site. 

We can’t wait to hear from you. 

Joe & T.J.

Demystifying Decision-Making: Exploring the Undercurrents Created By Our Choices

Mindset and Management: Two Must Reads for School Leaders Who Want to Manage the Impossible

Joe and T.J. Recommend that School Leaders Read The Following Two Books



Unlocking Excellence: Read to Lead Better, Learn to Grow Faster

In this episode, Joe and T.J. introduce two books that they know will make a difference in your life as a leader. Kotler’s book is about operating in a state of flow for improved focus and productivity. Who couldn’t benefit from learning more about flow and how we can get into a flow state?  

Murphy’s book is basically a “how-to” on management. Very practical with specific suggestions to improve your skills. There are also some ideas and thoughts that will challenge your current thinking about managing people. The author is clear that many management principles simply don’t work

Why Joe and T.J. Recommend The Art of Impossible by Steven Kotler and What Makes Great Managers Great by Curtiss Murphy

T.J. kicks off by explaining that when we don’t believe something or can’t imagine accomplishing it, we are limiting ourselves. We can’t do what we don’t think is possible. 

He reminds us of Roger Bannister breaking the 4-minute mile barrier, which seemed like an impossible feat. In fact, scientists deemed it physically impossible for humans to do so. 

T.J. tells listeners how the book moves through the key concepts of peak performance: motivation, learning, creativity, and flow. 

One major feature that makes this book a critical read for leaders is that it has research and data, along with various stories, to back up the assertions that the author makes. 

T.J. calls The Art of Impossible his favorite book of 2023. Bold statement!

Joe starts by letting the audience know that What Makes Great Managers Great has stories that accompany the management principles being described. This is a great feature because, too often, when reading books that are designed to improve our skill set, we don’t necessarily understand the full context. 

This book’s table of contents is organized so that you understand precisely what management principle is going to be covered. One principle that really resonated and challenged Joe was to assume confusion is everywhere. Listen to Murphy describe that himself on our podcast episode with him

Another great facet of this book is the focus on the power of praise. Similar to what we’ve described in the past, this book emphasizes the need for the praise to be specific and focused. 

T.J.’s Reading Tip: Set specific reading goals, which are essentially learning goals. Along with your goal, develop a list of books that you want to read. Don’t leave your reading habit and growth to chance. Too many of us finish books and don’t start another one right away. With your list in hand, that won’t ever happen again. 

Let us know what you’re reading by contacting us at And don’t miss our leadership newsletter every week by subscribing to the site. 

We can’t wait to hear from you. 

Joe & T.J.