Sue Ann Gruver recommended this read, and I am glad she did! As I have been teaching "leadership theory" for the past decade, students are often asking for more examples and reasons for why some ideas work and other do not. Cloud uses the latest findings from neuroscience along with pertinent examples of common sense to describe how to gain a culture of success!
Boundaries are established by what you create and what you allow as a leader. Sometimes I have seen educators be the most disrespectful audience in a group. His example of having a meeting where iPhones and email checking are the norm made me nod in agreement as I have lost a group's focus by "what I was allowing." The boundaries established to allow the brain's executive funcions to achieve any kind of purposeful activity rely on:
1. Attention: ability to focus on relevant stimuli, and block out what is not relevant.
2. Inhibition: ability to "not do" certain actions that could be distracting, irrelevant, or even destructive.
3. Working Memory: ability to retain and access relevant information for reasoning, decision making, and taking future actions.
Great leaders set boundaries for attention that support and enhance the executive functions of your people. Spend time on what is important and on what drives results, while limit and inhibit distractions, intrusions or toxins.
In order to get good results, Cloud emphasizes the importance of connections and relationships with the people you work, as the team is often more important than the plan. As we have come across members of the culture in our schools who exhibit "learned helplessness," what has been the strategy? Cloud gives some excellent pointers on how to shift that energy, or shift the energy around that person and the change in energy shifts the person out the door. He also has strategies for dealing with the "negativity" cloud which envelopes some individuals and can be contagious.
I like that he has much to say about "thinking" and reminders to audit your own thinking, as well as your team's way of thinking. It is not just the power of positive thinking with my rose colored glasses that I am often known for, it is the ability to get feedback in a way that is effective and meaningful. Ask people how they feel about getting feedback and recall that it is important to not just think others know you understand them, but to have others know that you know how something feels to them.
Get an agreed upon definition of "trust" for the team. Trust grows when we feel understoond. Cloud lists the following components that he thinks matter the most:
Connection through Understanding
Motivation and Intent
Capacity and Ability
Trust grows when we believe in someone's capacity and ability or when someone has built a good track record. We make investments when we feel trust. We need to invest in our team and expect them to achieve, as we build a culture that allows and encourages them to do just that.
Cloud completes the book with a focus on our own leadership boundaries concerning time and energy. How often do we describe our jobs as 24:7 responsibilities and become the superintendent as a definition of ourselves? We really are in charge of our time and our energy. Whose crises are you always solving or whose work are you doing instead of your own? Who is the squeaky wheel getting all of your attention? Set some boundaries. Think of the "big rocks" that are your own priorities and give them time and place on your calendar! Then add the smaller rocks, sand, and water.
Energy too can be planned. Living in an adrenaline-filled position with conflict and other people's emotions often the order of the day, you need to be sure to set some boundaries on your energy too. When you know you will be having to deal with people who are known root canals, be sure you set some time afterward with no appointments, but an activity that can recharge your energy so you do not get depleted.
Overall, Cloud provides some excellent advice, backed by neuroscience and experience with common sense. It is an easy read and he uses some of my personal favorites in his examples: Tony Dungy, John Kotter, Steve Jobs, Martin Seligman, and Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi! A Bob Dylan line is also in there. Enjoy the read. Sue Ann and I highly recommend it.
You can get this book from Tracey Kubitz, our MASA book support, by emailing her at firstname.lastname@example.org. Thanks, Tracey, for supplying us with so many delightful reads. You are the best!