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Rare Leadership: Building Group Identity vs. Getting Results

The Principal's Blog
September 13, 2019

Our RMCA staff read for 2019-20 is Marcus Warner's and Jim Wilder's Rare Leadership: 4 Uncommon Habits for Increasing Trust, Joy, and Engagement in the People You Lead. Our teachers and staff started reading in May, and we invite all parents to join us this summer and fall.

We together are arguably the most important leaders our children and students will ever have. What better reason to grow together even more in the new school year? Purchase the book (our front office also has several copies) and start reading about this insightful means of understanding how we as adults can grow so that we can help our 'younger brothers and sisters' flourish.

Building Group Identity vs. Getting Results: It’s a no-brainer on which is more important, right? Or, at least it’s relatively easy to identify which one has the greatest long-term results on a community. But how often do we choose the lesser goal? And why? Why is getting results so important, so critical, that it would trump intentionally building an awareness of the gifts, strengths, and weaknesses that God has given to us as individuals so that we can be something more together as His Body. I am curious. I think that I know, but I welcome any of your responses…

‘How is it like us to act?’ What a wonderful question. Sobering and compelling, it gives direction for the remainder of the chapter. It also provides a moment of reflection for us as we read. I encourage each of us to go back to p. 89 if you haven’t already read and considered this question.

The consequences of putting results over identity are tracked clearly and convincingly in the resulting pages. And we’ve all been there, right? We all know what it feels and looks like to be led or to lead through fear vs. joy. We’ve all had “alligators to face” (cf p. 91). And how much rewarding it is to face that alligator with someone else than alone!

The authors’ complementary question, ‘Who are my people?’ is a little easier to answer at least initially, but again, there is an opportunity here to reflect on why these particular people are ‘mine’--and why they count me as one of them as well. Regardless, the ramifications of a group identity built around a community’s mutually-beneficial joy vs. fear are demonstrated in the anecdotes that Warner and Wilder share. While the stories differ in details, they all reinforce the need for leaders to have heartfelt connections and deep, risky, vulnerable, servant-hearted relationships with others.

And then we get to p. 95 and the story of the St. Cyrs and Ambleside Schools International. While none of our names are mentioned, each of us who read this book at RMCA are represented here in this story. I encourage you to read this section with ‘new eyes’ and slowly digest what is being said about us and our 20+ sister schools and their communities. I encourage each of us to look very closely at the ideals and opportunities that each stakeholder has in the school for a joy-based identity. And I invite each of us to consider how we are matching or not matching that description and why.

I want to highlight specifically what the authors note about the St. Cyr’s comments about ‘cultre’ on p. 99. No matter who one might be within RMCA, this decidedly concerns our effectiveness as educators and parents. From Bill and Maryellen, we are reminded of the following truths:

We have always understood inspirational ideas as an essential and potent aspect of motivation. Further we have recognized the difference between an “inspirational idea” and “mere information.” Information is a mere statement of fact. An idea is a new way of seeing. Ideas shape, form, and transform relations. Ideas are not mere analytic abstractions from data. They are formative insights, revelations communicated mind to mind.

We are learning to put a primacy on relational dynamics. Among our staff, school principals, teachers, and students, we seek to engage with one another in ways that build trust and relational connectedness. This relational capacity building is foundational to taking and running together with the ideas that inspire us.

What a rejuvenating reminder of the opportunity and privilege that we get as educators and parents at RMCA!

The authors end this part of the chapter with the pointed question, ‘What are you doing to increase your emotional and relational maturity to be the most empowering leader?’

Certainly reading this book is a great step forward! I encourage each of us, whether teacher, staff, or board member, to continue reading, reflecting, sharing, and growing.

The chapter ends with a great section on staying in and regaining ‘mutual mind’ connectedness with others. I’ve certainly experienced when this is happening and particularly when it isn’t, but I’ve never read such a clear articulation of this phenomena. Read, reflect, share, and apply.