What Kind of Leader are You? A Cage-Buster’s Perspective

I am attending the AVID (Advancement via Individual Determination) Summer Institute this week in Dallas, Texas. It’s been a long ten days just before the trip, so I am excited to be here, yet mentally drained.

fence wire metal lock
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In the Leadership-Advancement strand, and I’ve gained much insight about AVID implementation, school-wide. My biggest takeaway so far isn’t about AVID and WICOR strategies, however. It’s not about professional development nor data. It’s about ME. I’m a Cage-Busting Boss Leader! One who is radical – a visionary who doesn’t brown-nose to the right people and one who probably upsets the wrong people at the wrong times. With all honesty, I love that about myself.

It’s beyond time for Joan to lower the humility flag she waves so proudly, which ultimately lands her in the back of the line where the rubber meets the road.

Hearing three principals from different parts of the country tell me that when I have spoken during our sessions that they learn from me, means so much more than what is actually happening in my life professionally.

I think I’ve read Who Moved My Cheese too many times, and Mindset (the Kindle, Hard Copy, and audio book versions) has all but conditioned me to accept changes without much discomfort. I am not sure if that is a good thing anymore.

I remember interviewing once for a position that I subsequently got hired for. I stated clearly that if the school was going to grow, we would need to set the bar for student achievement firmly up at 80%. Once back at the table, planning for the upcoming school-year, some of the team members looked at the principal and I like we had three heads, each. Some people were very adamant that it was unrealistic to set a goal so high when we were in the 66 percentile range going into the school-year.

photo of woman teaching
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My statement was, “If we set the bar high, the worst case scenario is that we’ll grow tremendously trying to make the mark.” If we set the goal right at the mark, we’re going to definitely miss the mark. I can predict that no core subject will come in under 70% proficiency on the end of year exam.

So here I am, thinking about cage-busting leadership but eagerly waiting to get to Dealey Plaza (Yes, I am going to reopen the investigation of JFK’s assassination before I leave for North Carolina).

As we exchanged more AVID dialogue about leadership, moving into the third hour of day two, I remembered when my college basketball coach yanked my scholarship for the fall semester of my senior year. How does the team captain let this happen to herself? She cited poor defense as the reason. I looked her dead in the eye and said,

“You know what coach? I’m going to not only earn my scholarship back, but I’m going to be your best defensive player on the entire team next year.”

She looked at me and smirked as if to say, “Get the hell outta here! You!? Yeah right.” With the help of a good friend and the guys at the gym back home, not only was I the best defensive player on the team, but I led the conference in steals with 118 on the year.

That is what being a cage-busting leader is all about. Two times, I set the bar too high for the average person to grasp, but in both instances, the goals were met and exceeded. On goal-setting, I know that I know, what I know.

Reaching beyond the normal, same old-same old goals with a winning mindset gets results. It’s not being afraid to think outside of the box. It’s about being courageous and building trust amongst staff and students or co-workers, coaches and teammates that you are confident and determined in the process.

It will all come together at the appointed time. For now, I am glad to be a cage-buster in an inside-the-box world.

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