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6 Summer Reads to Make You a More Responsive Leader

6 Summer Reads to Make You a More Responsive Leader

Personalized Learning  |  Competency-Based Education  |  Innovative Leadership

We published The NEW School Rules: 6 Vital Practices for Thriving and Responsive Schools this winter to help leaders make a shift toward being more effective, responsive leaders. Since the book’s release in February we have had dozens of requests for webinars and presentations about The NEW School Rules. Demand has been so great that we’ve developed a leadership course based on the rules. This summer we kick off leadership courses across five districts and four states.

The NEW School Rules Leadership Course helps leaders rethink the way work gets done in their teams based on the lessons from within and outside of the education sector. Through the course, leaders learn about global trends in organizational design theory and the six rules for making their organization more effective and responsive (Planning, Teaming, Managing Roles, Decision-Making, Sharing Information, and The Learning Organization). We designed the course for leaders who want to instigate change and create environments of growth, excitement, and passion. While many education leadership courses focus on curriculum, budgeting, or technology, The NEW School Rules course helps leaders think about processes, people, and protocols to make lasting change.

We are so thrilled to be leading these courses and working deeply with leaders around the country. And yet we know not everyone has the time or resources to invest in a full course. So I’m providing this summer reading list to help everyone grow as a responsive leader, even if you only have a few minutes or hours. This reading list is based on the resources we use during our course, but trimmed down into bite-sized chunks you can digest this summer - by the pool, on a plane, or at your kitchen table.


Leading to Chaos-680881-edited1. Leading to Chaos: A conversation with General Stanley McChrystal

Many of you may know about the influential book Team of Teams that was published in 2016. General McChrystal has had an enormous impact on how leaders think about teaming and collaboration. I like this interview with Stanley McChrystal and Joe Mariani from Deloitte because it provides the high level ideas from the book in a condensed, easy to read post (you’re welcome for saving you 289 pages!).



Why Organizations Don't Learn-790927-edited2. Why Organizations Don’t Learn

Francesca Gino is, in my opinion, one of the greatest minds researching and writing about organizational design and employee engagement. This article seeks to answer the question “Why do companies struggle to become or remain ‘learning organizations’?” It summarizes a decade of research and identifies deeply ingrained human tendencies, how they interfere with learning, and how they can be countered.



What Hollywood Can Teach Us3. What Hollywood Can Teach Us About The Future of Work

Hollywood has some interesting lessons to teach us about how to structure teams, roles, and collaboration. In most Hollywood productions, a project is identified; a team is assembled; it works together for precisely as long as is needed to complete the task; then the team disbands. What would it mean if schools and districts structured our teams in this responsive way?



The Five Keys to a Successful Google Team-837004-edited4. The Five Keys To a Successful Google Team

There have been a ton of articles about Google’s Project Aristotle, a two-year study of hundreds of Google employees to identify what makes certain teams more effective than others. I particularly like this simple summary article from Google’s re:Work. It includes the most important takeaways and links out to the research if you want to go deeper.




Unlock Honest Feedback-887211-edited5. Unlock Honest Feedback From Your Employees With This One Word

One of the keys to becoming a more responsive leader is establishing trust, frequent feedback, and autonomies in your teams. This article from Claire Lew provides a simple suggestion. Instead of asking for feedback, ask for advice. I’ve seen the power of this simple language switch firsthand and highly recommend this article as a spark to change your practice in a small, but powerful way.



New School Rules-203663-edited6. The NEW School Rules: 6 Vital Practices for Thriving and Responsive Schools

Our summer reading list wouldn’t be complete without this foundational text. If reading a full book seems daunting, check out these podcasts with authors Anthony Kim and Alexis Gonzales-Black or our website for a short synopsis of each rule.





I hope these six readings will help to ignite new ideas and inspire you to try a few responsive leadership practices as you start the new school year. If you want more ideas for responsive org design resources connect with me on Twitter @kearaduggan.


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About Keara Mascareñaz

Keara is a Managing Partner at Education Elements who focuses on how to build and scale a culture of innovation in large systems, how to create national communities of collaboration, and how to keep laughing when pursuing daunting, large-scale changes. She was lucky to collaborate with co-authors Alexis Gonzales-Black and Anthony Kim to design the website and toolkit for The NEW School Rules: 6 Practices for Responsive and Thriving Schools.

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