Sunday, December 18, 2011

7 Things My Boss Gets Right

by John T. Spencer

Any leader who can get me to wear this is a great leader, indeed.

  1. Have Fun: I'm not referring to simply hosting a potluck. Some of the best leaders go over-the-top either with zany humor or with something extra-classy or with something deeply thoughtful. The bottom line is that these types of events tell a team that the leader is willing to go beyond the expectation. Tomorrow I will sport that outfit above for our department Ugly Sweater party. It is, admittedly, goofy. However, there is power in a shared, memorable, goofy event. 
  2. Be Supportive: I can't count the number of times that he has gone to bat for our department when we were being trampled on by the system or misunderstood by other leaders. 
  3. Be Critical: Chad is the type of leader who isn't afraid to engage in hard conversations when things aren't working. I can trust his words of affirmation, because he is honest enough to be critical at the necessary times.  
  4. Be Humble: I see this in small ways. For example, he sits with us rather than with the directors at meetings. He gives us credit anytime anything goes well and he takes the blame when things fail. He listens. He asks questions. When you work with a humble leader, you give them permission to enter into your world and the concept of submitting to authority doesn't feel like a chore.
  5. Be Innovative: Although creativity and innovation are edu-buzzwords, the reality is that the system often forces people to push compliance above change. I feel the freedom to push innovative ideas and the freedom to fail in the process. It's a powerful motivator. 
  6. Be Present: There is an intentionality to the moments when I am in his office. He is truly present. I've worked with people who are thinking about other things or trying to multi-task and the result is something even colder and less relational than an e-mail. 
  7. Trust: Although this is the last on the list, it's the most important. I trust my boss and because I trust him, I can be honest and vulnerable and he can step in and help when it's necessary. He doesn't micromanage. He doesn't nag. But he's not entirely "hands-off," either. Trust allows for freedom within the confines of safety.  


  1. I was so moved by this articulate, compelling post that I shared it with my entire faculty. with the note below:

    The blog post below from a teacher, not at our school, about 7 things his boss gets right impressed me enough that I want to share it with you.

    I’m not sure if the boss this teacher is referring to is a department chair or principal, but it doesn’t really matter. He articulates 7 things I hope to get right, at least most of the time. As I ask each of you to set professional learning goals, I believe you deserve to know mine. It is to nurture a collaborative, supportive culture in which we together focus on students and their learning. As the post below describes in such a compelling way, I strive to do so with fun, support, critical feedback, humility, innovation, presence and trust. And, in our Jewish school, I strive also to be always guided by our core Jewish values.

    Prior to reading this post, I’m not sure I would have included “have fun” on a short list of what I hope to get right. And, yet, upon reflection I concur that, “have fun”, belongs right where John Spencer places it – at the very top of the list. In the coming year, I will strive to have more fun with you and our students!

    I thank you all for getting the essence right most of the time with our students and parents. You offer fun, support, critical feedback, humility, innovation, presence and trust. You do so guided by our core Jewish values. Our school community is very blessed!

    Wishing you a wonderful week of celebration together and then a well deserved winter break, meaningful holidays, and a joyous New Year,

  2. I too found this a great read- earthy. It brings out the core qualities - I can respect someone who can be critical - if they can be there, thoughtfully and conscientiously and recognize the value of the effort put in - lovely to have this in print!

  3. I strive to make an try to do so with fun, support, vital feedback, humility, innovation, presence and trust.

  4. Sending this to my boss, who is all that except female.

  5. Not many leaders are actually effective and seeing that your boss got to wear you that outfit (not actually a holiday dress option) - as I said it, very effective. On another note, my boss definitely knows how to have fun and maybe that's part of the reason why we've been with him from start and hopefully, the future.

  6. 7.09 Teach every kid in the late teens about psychopaths because they all need to know - explained here: [ as not every single kid will be fortunate enough to get a non-psychopathic leader]

  7. I am lucky to know this particular boss and I have seen him exhibit all of these qualities. You're lucky to work for him :-)


Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.