This is the latest in a series of blog posts by a partnering cohort member.
By: Zac Shutler
Studying perennially thriving organizations can be difficult because there are so many ways to gauge success. It is no wonder that so many leadership experts study sports organizations and what drives the most successful franchises. Quantifying success through the observation of division standings and accrued championships seems like a simpler way to study leadership. Walker dives into the most historically successful franchises and finds that there is a common thread that ties them all together. It isn’t simply leadership, it is the leadership of the team’s captain. He attempts to prove that the character of the player that leads the team has a direct correlation to the sustained historic greatness of that team.
Using a multitude of scientific studies, research from Daniel Goleman and Carl Dweck, and numerous historical examples, Walker paints a compelling picture of the importance of leadership, not only on the field, but also within the classroom and the boardroom. Below are the seven traits of an elite captain based on Walker’s research:
I believe that all of the above qualities describe many of the leaders that are part of the Fluency Project. We are focused on improving the lives of those in our charge, we are pushing the limits of what others deem the “rules of education,” we do the work for those who need us the most, we build relationships throughout our buildings, we inspire others with our actions more than our words, we strive to create powerful moments for our students and our staff even if others question the value, and we are at our best when we are purpose driven. I am so proud to be surrounded by a group of elite “captains.”
Walker closes the book by detailing that leaders are not born, they are developed. He breaks it down into a simple formula that was shared with him by a former army colonel. Leadership = Potential X Motivation X Development. As educators we are responsible for discovering the human potential, cultivating an environment where we inspire motivation, and developing leadership potential. It is as important as reading and mathematics.
Walker ends with a quote that I believe perfectly encapsulates what leadership is. He states: “The truth is that leadership is a ceaseless burden. It is not something people should do for the self-reflected glory, or even because they have oodles of charisma or surpassing talent. It is something they should do because they have the humility and fortitude to set aside the credit, and their own gratification and well-being, for the team-not just in the pressure-packed moments but in every minute of every day.”