PMP:091 Reflecting on Lessons in Leadership

One of my favorite ways to enjoy a long drive is by listening to podcasts or audio-books.

Photo by Aaron Burden – Creative Commons No known copyright restrictions

And I especially find biographies a helpful way to learn lessons about life and leadership.
Two audiobooks that I’ve enjoyed in my drives may sound like they have nothing in common: Seabiscuit: An American Legend by Lauren Hillenbrand and The Rise of Theodore Roosevelt by Edmund Morris.

As vastly different as the stories of a horse and former President can be, I find that both of them are full of similarities in the kinds of challenges, risk, courage, and strategies necessary to achieve goals and dreams. As you think about your own school leadership, how can you take lessons from those around you (both in person and in history) to reflect on ways to keep growing and learning?

This week’s podcast is a recording from a webinar series I shared recently on Lessons in Leadership I pull from four different sources:

Part 1 – Lessons in teamwork from a champion racehorse
Part 2 – Lessons from leaning on one another
Part 3 – Lessons in leadership from Theodore Roosevelt
Part 4 – Using vacation to reenergize your school leadership

You can listen to the entire conversation here or watch the webinar video, but below is a short summary of the points discussed:

Part 1 – Lessons in teamwork from a champion racehorse

Seabiscuit’s story is really a story of teamwork. Three unlikely men unify around a horse that surprised the world. In the process, you find some common traits that all great teams share.

Great teams…

  • unify around a common cause
  • turn unlikely prospects into surprising strengths
  • know success requires risk
  • value loyalty and trust
  • translate dreams into actions
  • build momentum through positive publicity
  • know lost battles don’t equal lost wars
  • know great defeats can lead to later victories
  • know success is contagious
  • leave great legacies
  • Part 2 – Lessons in growing from leaning on others

    Just as we can learn from historic examples, we have the same opportunities to learn from others still within our reach. Growing leaders are those who look around them for feedback and examples.

    By leaning on others, you can grow by:

  • regularly connecting with your team members
  • visiting other successful schools or organizations
  • inviting outside experts into your school
  • investing time into learning opportunities
  • Part 3 – Lessons in leadership from Theodore Roosevelt

    The life of Theodore Roosevelt is both fascinating and controversial. Despite his hot temper and boisterous personality, her accomplished amazing milestones. The story of his early life gives examples of principles we should never underestimate in leadership development.

    Never underestimate the:

  • power of early education
  • importance of timeless values
  • effects of self-improvement
  • value of Providence
  • lessons learned from defeat
  • influence of publicity
  • outcomes of your focus
  • modeling of courage
  • Part 4 – Using vacation to reenergize your leadership

    Finally, as you may be stepping into some much-needed vacation during Thanksgiving and Christmas, don’t forget the importance of rest and self-reflection:


  • reminds you who you really are
  • allows for mental and emotional detox
  • stimulates creativity and problem solving
  • produces better productivity
  • Let’s Wrap This Up

    Whether you are looking back in history, talking to a teammate, or enjoying the benefits of rest, a consistent cycle of reflection is a powerful way to keep learning. Just as you want your students to stay curious, creative, and productive, you can keep modeling those same behaviors by finding meaning and lesson in the stories that surround you everyday.

    Now It’s Your Turn

    What is a recent book, movie, or conversation you’ve had recently that taught you a valuable lesson? How can you reflect on that lesson for taking a step forward in way you are leading others today? What’s one way you can invest time in reflection so that you can have more creativity for serving others?

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    Principal Matters–The Book!

    School leaders are very busy, so each of the twenty-four chapters is designed as a quick-read and followed with take-action questions for follow-up or reflection. If you want practical ideas on understanding your purpose, managing school teams, dealing with challenges, and leading with courage, action, motivation, and teamwork, go HERE to pick up a copy for you or your team.

    Messaging Matters

    Harness the power of messaging to create a culture of acknowledgment, respect, and celebration. Written specially for leaders, this title is divided into three parts, helping readers to maximize their role as chief communicators with students, teachers, and parents and community. Each chapter includes suggestions for using digital tools to enhance messaging and ends with reflection questions and practical next steps.

    Think someone else would benefit from this episode?
    William D. Parker
    William D. Parker