My #1 Rule for Leadership

I’ve studied leadership very closely.  I’ve been a leader of some kind for many years. Throughout all of my reading and coursework, I don’t think anyone ever specifically told me what I now believe to be the #1 rule for leadership.  I’ve worked with and been around people that are just amazing leaders.  But not one ever told me this.

Be a great person.


Think about the best leaders you know.  Or the worst.  My hunch is the quality of a person they are significantly impacts their ability to lead.  Maybe we just assume leaders are good people.  Well, when I look around at many leaders right now, I’m not sure that is the correct assumption.  When I reflect on my leadership experiences, the type of person I have been has directly impacted how well I have led.

  1. For 12 years I was a varsity basketball coach.  4 of those years coaching girls at Kent City and 8 coaching boys in Cedar Springs.  I was still figuring out who I was as a person during many of those years.  One of my biggest takeaways during those years was how some kids would put their individual needs aside just to be part of the team.  I learned selflessness from kids like Jake Porter, Cannon Waite, Andrew Morrow, and Tyler Case.
  2. During my 2 years as an assistant principal at Cedar Trails Elementary, I was fortunate to be around a teaching staff with a lot of experience.  That staff probably helped me and pulled me along more than I even did for them.  I learned a lot about professionalism and how to approach my job each day.
  3. I am proud of many things we accomplished during my 4 years at Cedar View. That was a dynamic staff, with amazing strengths, and varied philosophies.  We created an environment focused on supporting students to become better people and moved instruction emphasizing the skills that students will need in the 21st century.  If I would’ve been a better person, and thus a better leader, we could’ve gone even further.
  4. Now at Jamestown Elementary, we have all the pieces.  It’s like the football team without a weakness.  We got LB’s, DB’s, and an offensive line.  Our teaching staff is the hardest working I’ve been around in 20 years.  They are talented, collaborative, focused, and invested into our school and the district.  We have a great culture that is only getting better due to the positive energy that seems to pour out of our walls.  Our support staff is smart, committed, and capable of taking on so many important roles. That doesn’t mean that we can’t get better.  There are specifics that we can and must improve upon.  We need to continue to innovate and grow as individuals and as a group with an intense thirst for greatness that possesses us each and every day.  It’s a perfect storm but in a good way, because of where this staff is and where I am.  With the support of so many people, I’ve navigated through the journey of life to become the best person I’ve ever been.  That will allow me to be the best leader I’ve ever been.  It’s so exciting to think this will be the worst year as a leader I will have at Jamestown because I’m only going to get better.  Much better.

What I’ve learned over the journey of life and of leadership...Be a great person.  That will greatly impact the ceiling of your leadership.

Be a great person.



I’m a man of many ideas…some that come to fruition and others that just vanish into thin air.  The ideas come from just about everywhere.  That inspiration comes from books, friends, family, colleagues, and often people that I’ve never met.  I’m also a dreamer.  I believe that with collaboration, innovation, and inspiration, just about anything is possible.

Today, while sitting in church, those two worlds met.  The world of ideas and dreams.  It was the word Avodah that caused the collision.  “The transliteration, Avodah, is a Hebrew word meaning both to work and to worship.”  Work and worship.  Not separate, but together.  Can you share and build faith within your work community?  Why not?imgres.jpg

Sometimes these ideas just hang out in my mind for what seems like forever.  Here are three that I’ve been kicking around for awhile now.  The overall concept is creating a team in the workplace that has a true bond built on faith, mind, and body.

  1. I once read something that John Calipari did with his basketball staff while at Memphis that intrigued me.  They had a staff workout time.  He had staff on the treadmill together, lift together, weigh-in together.  Due to the long hours and intense work coaching requires, he thought their physical fitness was important.  Sound body, sound mind.  I have since read about and seen other businesses or schools who did things like this together 
  2. I recently reached out to some colleagues about creating a collaborative group of educators focused on sharing innovative ideas.  Some of this was in connection to seeing Dave Burgess recently at a conference.  He inspired and motivated me to connect with others who are very creative and innovative.  I feel like there are so many cutting-edge and creative ideas out there in education and I’d love to have a network where those could be shared.
  3. Faith and work.  Regardless of what “faith” may mean to you or what religion you are, how can there be a further bond within the workplace centered on faith?imgres.jpg

Those three ideas existed in their own individual silo before today.  Before Avodah

After listening to the service today, I think these ideas can exist together.  They do for individuals.  Why not the team?  One of the areas I constantly am trying to improve upon is the culture, team, and sense of community within the workplace.  As a leader, I’m also obsessed with creating an environment that allows people to be their absolute best, as employees and as humans.   I think that’s why this idea is so personal to me.

I’m onto something here.  Something that allows your team, TOGETHER, to stretch your mind, keep your body fit, and connect in faith.  Avodah.  People always go outside of their work community for these things, creating an additional layer in their lives.  But what if they didn’t always have to. 

I have a lot more thinking to do on this one, this idea, but I’m excited about the possibilities. The possibility of creating a structure that allows mind, body, and spirit to be fulfilled in the workplace each and every day.  Instead of sharing completed and refined idea on the blog, this time I’m sharing an idea, an unfinished product, with the hope of making it a reality.  I’d love to hear any thinking, ideas, or possibilities you might have as it relates to this.  I’m guessing this will be other posts to follow building from this.  Avodah.