Two weeks ago, I had the privilege of facilitating a discussion for a webinar for alumni of Georgetown University titled, “Conversations are the Work of a Leader.”

In spite of my limitations as a presenter, there was a lot of appreciative feedback about the messages conveyed: that as senior managers and leaders we need to be connected with our people, and not just through e-mail, newsletters and town hall meetings. We need to get out of our offices, off our executive floors and speak with the people who are doing the work of our companies.

There were poignant comments and questions during and after the webinar, such as, “I wish my boss was listening. He doesn’t get it,” and, “How do we get this message to our senior managers? They spend most of their time talking to each other, not to us.”

There were many similar comments and questions. Clearly this subject sparked interest; people feel strongly that conversations are vitally important.…

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Stock PhotoI tend to be one of those educational risk takers.

As a K-12 administrator, I loved nothing more than to visit classrooms where there was a buzz of student learning, where you could stand in the doorway for minutes before anyone even knew you were there, where a room was a hive of student activity, where the teacher was lost in the swirl of investigation and collaboration, where classroom management stemmed from an intensity of engagement rather than the enforcement of rules.

Not surprisingly, I am an unreserved proponent of blended learning.

Creating an environment that fosters collaboration, respect and passion — that thinks outside of the educational box — reaps so many rewards for student engagement and embraces the dynamic nature of education. We regularly challenge the teachers we work with to commit to reinventing their approaches with technology and to intellectually rejuvenate their spirit.

For years, we “early adopters” have been advocating the many advantages of blended learning — the predominant one being that it naturally allows for differentiated instruction.…

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SmartPulse — our weekly nonscientific reader poll in SmartBrief on Leadership — tracks feedback from more than 190,000 business leaders. We run the poll question each week in our e-newsletter.

Last week, we asked: How well do you take to being “just a team member” and working alongside your team?

  • Very well — I easily transition into the role of team member: 58.76%
  • Well — sometimes I transition easily but other times I’m challenged: 34.4%
  • Not well — I have difficulty changing my mindset and being a team member: 5.77%
  • Poorly — I actively resist situations where I have to work alongside my team: 1.07%

Welcome to the team. It’s easy to forget what it’s like to be a team member when you spend most of your days leading that team. If you have difficulty stepping into a team role and letting someone else lead, you’re missing out on a great opportunity.…

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classroom 2How do we ensure that we have the best teachers in all of our schools? We’ve already taken the first step by acknowledging that our best teachers aren’t drawn to serve in our highest needs schools. We also know that these schools and teachers need significant additional support in order to begin to make a difference. We haven’t yet defined what the additional support must look like and what it will cost. To date, many band-aid solutions have been put into place. It is time to make a major commitment to enacting real change for our most needy children. We must also commit to developing excellence in each and every teacher.

This type of change happens at a grassroots level and must be tailored to local needs. This means that school districts, schools and teachers must be empowered and supported to create learning environments that will maximize learning, growth and development for each and every child in their care.…

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Madeline is sitting in her boss’s office, patiently waiting for his full attention so she can preview a client presentation she has to deliver tomorrow. Meanwhile Rob, her boss, is sending a text on his smart phone. Before he’s finished with that, the computer pings, signaling an incoming e-mail that Rob says he must answer immediately. He interrupts that process to grab a ringing phone and finally waves Madeline away, mouthing “I’ll catch you later,” as she backs out the door.

Rob is a busy guy. He’s hustling all day long. And Madeline knows if he doesn’t review her presentation before she delivers it to the client, he’s very likely to snap her head off. Rob has the “Rush Syndrome.” Unfortunately, he’s spreading this infection throughout his entire team.

Does any of this sound familiar? There have probably been times when you could identify with both Madeline and Rob. If you detect some symptoms of “Rush Syndrome” in yourself, how can you stop the infection?…

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