Welcome fellow Recovering Traditionalists to Episode 17. Today we are looking at Why Leaders Should Eat Last
Part of changing the way we teach math is building our own understanding of the math and how kids learn math. But another part is helping others with that change as well. When I was put in the role of math specialist I had no clue how to lead others and that’s essential what you are doing if you are a math coach, instructional coach, etc, yet many of us were never really prepared for that part of the job. I know I wasn’t.
So I went on a quest to learn more about leading people. How do we help others make change and then sustain that change?
One of the books I came across while on that quest is the book Leaders Eat Last: Why Some Teams Pull Together and Others Don’t by Simon Sinek. It’s a book that stemmed from Simon asking a Marine Corps general what makes the Marines so good and the response was “Officers eat last.” It’s the idea that great leaders put the needs of others in their group before their own.
Through Simon’s research, he discovered that was the secret to many successful businesses and today I’d like to challenge us to contemplate if that is also the secret that makes schools and it’s educators within successful as well.
There are many things that the “leader eating last” means but one of the big ones is how a great leader distributes their knowledge and power instead of keeping it to themselves.
On pages 211 & 212, Simon writes:
“Jim Collins and Jerry Porras make the case in their book, Built to Last, that when the genius at the top leaves, they take all their expertise and genius with them. In contrast, when a leader has the humility to distribute power across the organization, the strength of the company becomes less dependent on one person and is thus better able to survive. In this model, instead of trying to command-and-control everything, the leaders devote all their energy to training, building, and protecting their people – to managing the Circle of Safety – so that the people can command and control any situation themselves. That’s the best way to protect the legacy of the leader and extend the success of the company for many years after the leader departs.”
So as departing thoughts on this, I’d just like to re-read the quote and replace “company” with “teachers”, and “leader” with “math coach.”
“…when the genius at the top leaves, they take all their expertise and genius with them. In contrast, when a math coach has the humility to distribute power across the organization, the strength of the teachers becomes less dependent on one person and is thus better able to survive. In this model, instead of trying to command-and-control everything, the math coaches devote all their energy to training, building, and protecting their people – to managing the Circle of Safety – so that the people can command and control any situation themselves. That’s the best way to protect the legacy of the math coach and extend the success of the teachers for many years after the math coach departs.”
If you are a coach or a teacher leader I highly suggest this book if you feel like you need help in learning how to work with and lead others. I’ll also link to the registration for the Virtual Math Summit. This summer we have 39 presenters and some are specifically geared towards math coaches. I’d love to have you learn more during this free event.
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