Tag: Leadership Development

Solution Weekly May 15-21, 2022

Getting Back to Center

Have you ever felt like you were off-balanced? A change happened in your life, and now things as you knew as “normal” are now the opposite. Oh, yes, the pandemic! The Covid-19 pandemic is one example. Can you think of more? Many things can impact us in positive and negative ways, which cause us to feel off-balanced and not centered; how do we handle it.

Word of the Day

I am a big believer in vocabulary! We do not spend enough time exploring, providing, and giving children time to explore “words.”

It could be because I come from a home where my parents did not know how to read. When I would go to school in my early years, I can remember my Kindergarten teacher saying, “I am sure your parents have read this story to you, but I am going to read it today again.” Nope, my parents had not, and I heard it for the first time. We forget many children do not have rich conversations or have exposure to reading materials or opportunities to visit other places. How can we help to improve their vocabulary for them?

Are you facing “Drainout”?

In our current situations, we have all faced many critical, unpredictable conditions not seen before. We have dealt with in our years of service overcoming what many have referred to as “burnout”, not motivated, exhausted, and leads me to what I believe is replacing all of these words in our workplaces today: “Drainout.”

Think about how you and your co-workers feel right now. How do you feel overall? “Drainout” is not something that happens just at work, it can happen in every aspect of life. We will discuss more this week.

Donuts, Veggies or Ice Cream? Choices

Do you hold meetings? If you do, do you provide a snack? When people walk into your meeting, do they find chocolates or candy on the tables? What do you think about offering food or something for meetings?

I am curious about this idea. I know I have, it seems, always had candy on the tables and offered snacks. During my career, I never used a line budget for my building expenses. I thought doing this was my choice, and I usually paid for it myself. Sometimes I had vendors who would send stuff, but mostly me or sometimes my Assistant Principal would get things.

Fast Forward-Future Skills Needed Today!

As we have witnessed in the past three years, leaders have shifted to rapidly respond, react and realign approaches to meet the needs of change. Change is not something new to leaders, but a change at this level of magnitude left leaders scrambling. We have not seen this level of change happen at his rapid domino pace.

What do we need from leaders based on the experiences from the past three years to prepare for our future? How can we be readily prepared for rapid changes? Can we give this some thought and reflect on what we have learned as we move forward?

Hidden Blessings- Lesson 4 Reap what you sow

Lesson 4: You reap what you sow.

When I was growing up, my mother and father were known for their giant garden. We were a small family, so why raise this kind of garden?

The lesson they taught me is about the work you put into serving others which brings you the most profound love. I was no lover of vegetables, but I helped take care of the garden when I could. Then I would watch as my mother shared these vegetables with others. The joy reflected in her face always made me happy as well.

My parents were loved by so many, and they told them often. When they passed, people came to share stories with us, and we could remember how much they enjoyed the gift of giving to others. The feedback we received matched precisely to who they were. All feedback does not reflect the true you.

“It would have been easy for me to accept my supervisor’s judgment of my leadership skills and worth. But her words didn’t align with the feedback I was getting everywhere else.”-Daniel Bauer, author of Mastermind, Unlocking Talent Within Every School Leader

It is difficult for a leader to receive mixed messages. When you have many voices speaking to you, it is hard to cut through the noise to hear the voice of reason truly. You have to step back and make hard choices to regain your footing, adjust yourself and take chances. Being self-aware, developing confidence, and remaining true to your core values will always see you through.

“The seeds you plant will one day harvest. The fruit will be positive or negative, so be mindful of what you plant. You are planting every day with your words and actions.”-Daniel Bauer. We have such power in our words and actions. People do not realize this power. We have choices in everything we do. “As you care less about what people think of you, you will care more about what others think of themselves.”-Stephen Covey

Look at every situation, both positive and negative, as an opportunity. They are all part of growth. Each one provides lessons, ways to improve, and an idea to expand on to move forward. As Danny stated, “The seeds you plant will one day harvest.” Just like my parents and the garden, it takes daily work. These seeds need much care to reach their full potential, and you have to pull the weeds in the garden, so the seeds have room to reach out.

What happens to leaders who are pushed out of their positions? What do they do next? It is all about choices. It took Danny a year to believe the false narrative, and it interfered with his life. Then he was able to pull back the curtain to see his truth. I took a little longer. My injuries, age, and stubbornness got in my way. I have to say; I still have triggers due to injuries. Danny has accomplished so much, and I am slowly working my way each day to serve others better.

Hidden Blessings needs

  • Take the advice of Brené Brown- Develop a square squad (a group of people who are willing to tell you truthful feedback no matter what!) (Lesson 1)
  • Remember to follow your true north (Lesson 2)
  • Obstacles are opportunities (Lesson 3)
  • Let your words, actions, and work speak. (Lesson 4)
  • Connecting, Networking, Developing, Building solid relationships with other leaders. (Lesson 5)

If you are not following Daniel Bauer, he is a great one to connect with to help with building a professional community. I have always been with Illinois Principals Association. Follow my blog, connect with me at http://www.linkedin.com/in/brendayoho or on Twitter @BrendaYoho

Seeking to get back or create additional disruption serves no purpose. We choose our reaction to our situation and respond in how we want to take action when we are ready. It does not matter the time-frame only that you are able to continue to move forward.

Truth be Told

My goal this week was to work on building efforts to handle setbacks. What can we do to help ourselves and others when faced with a setback or challenge? I never thought I would experience any more setbacks as I was beginning my journey of treatments to battle breast cancer.

I am a morning person! Getting up before the sun rises each morning is a typical day in our home. My appointment to see my dermatologist was at 7:30 a.m.! However, the doctors’ office is 50 minutes away. Then I would head to meet with my medical team for education on the radiation I would receive and what to expect. I would then have CT scans to map out the point for radiation. I would arrive back home in time for lunch!

As you can tell, I like to have things all planned out to maximize daylight time! I never expected to have anything mess with my very detailed plan for the day until it happened! Just like that it was derailed.

I arrived right on time to my appointment, checked in, and the nurse called me back. I put on my little gown and waited for the doctor to come in for my six-month checkup. He begins by checking my arms, face, and back. “Everything looks great, but I want to take another look at your left arm.”

What? Another look at my left arm? I have not seen anything. Did I tell you I have breast cancer?

“I think I want to biopsy that spot on your left arm. It is small, but it looks like you have the start of something. With your history of having skin cancer before, we need to check it out.”

I can’t believe I need a biopsy today. More cancer? Don’t I have enough?

The nurse comes back to prep me. Injections given. Doctor comes back takes the sample. Information given to me when the results will be back and how to care for the area. All bandaged up and off to the next appointment.

Next Appointment

Arriving at the next appointment, I was still a little upset from the previous appointment, but I wanted to understand everything completely. Everyone did a great job, but I was getting overwhelmed. When I heard we need to give you three permanent tattoos, what color did I want, black or pink? I know I looked at them with a crazy face. They are tiny marks to guide the laser to make sure I am aligned each time correctly for radiation treatments.

I have always told individuals not to get tattoos, and here I am getting them! Thank goodness I had nothing else planned for the day because I was at my max! Today is an Orange Hi-C and ice cream kind of day for me!

Truth be Told

Our faith is the center of who we are as individuals. Courage comes from the heart. The setbacks we face rely on facing our fears with our hearts, minds, and souls. The time we are living through today are not of the conditions of normalcy. We face setbacks daily, it seems. Some are more than others, but the truth is all are equal in causing a level of pain.

I usually respond when asked, “How are you?” with “Just fine.” On the day of my doctor’s visits, I did not wait for anyone to ask me. I called and told others I was not fine. For the first time in my life, I believe, I canceled out on several things scheduled. I was not fine.

Truth be told when you are not OK. Taking a break is alright to do. You can step away. Setbacks do not have to derail you every day! Take a moment and regain your balance!

-I have not received the results yet to know if it is cancer or not. I will let you know when I do.

Teachers and Leaders, encourage failure!

This title may need to be explained! It is not that I am encouraging all of us to fail but to innovate and become resilient. The title is also not saying teachers and leaders encourage their students to fail. It is the approach and strategies we use to help children grow.

One year the theme I selected for our school year was “Failure is not an option at SVMS,” based on the book written by Alan Blankstein. In his book, he points out six principles that guide student achievement. It is a perfect book to utilize with staff to work on improvement plans, reviewing data on instructional needs, practices, and curriculum. I was and am impressed with Alan Blankstein because he shares his own stories of struggles and how educators do change the lives of others.

But my title says, “encourage failure?” You can utilize the theme and the practices by engaging in examples of why it is okay to fail but not stop. We have many examples in history of individuals who failed but continued to try and found success.

15 People who failed on their way to success!


Children need opportunities to learn, explore and discover. It is acceptable to take risks, chances, make mistakes and fail. Is your classroom or school environment a place where children feel safe to make mistakes, or are they working in an “answer getters” mindset where the correct answer is the only way?

I want to repeat one of my phrases for you: “Education is something we do with children, not to them.” To help build a growth mindset, innovation, creativity, resiliency, and academic success, “encourage failure.” Suppose children focus only on reaching the correct answer without inquiring the why, how, and what; then the next level of learning is never reached. How will we find the next discovery, cure a disease, invent a new idea or solve a global problem if we do not help our children learn how to dig deeper in their learning.

Feel free to reach out to Alan Blankstein @AlanBlankstein. If you have not picked up any of his books please check out his latest book Breakthrough Leadership https://us.corwin.com/en-us/nam/author/alan-m-blankstein

Help children build resilience by embracing the understanding of failure and the lessons they bring to help make toolboxes to conquer more issues as they are part of their path.

What is at the core of your leadership?

“Corey, Aaron, and Justin, I would like to have you three be the leaders from our class to represent us. We will be presenting the Twin Towers model to the city for a temporary display.”

Their faces filled with smiles and big bright eyes. Priceless. No one would have used leader to describe these boys. They were in trouble, missed school, and had difficulty in academics. However, in our project-based learning activities following 9-11, they shined bright. They loved painting, measuring, and building these towers. When the reporter and photographer arrived, it was their time to shine. When their pictures landed on the newspaper’s front page along with their quotes, they were walking with pride. A change just happened for them—an opportunity to lead with pride.

Leadership can come in a moment when you need it. Maybe it does not last, and sometimes it does. Often it comes by someone giving you a chance to show others what you can do.

If you Google leadership resources, you will find 807,000,000 results. Narrow your search by focusing on one leadership element, but you will still find a large number. If we have all of these resources, we should have excellent leaders! Do we?

If you are reading this, you are interested in leadership, or you are a leader. Thank you for your leadership! It is a vital role with so many responsibilities.

Individuals look to the leader for strength, safety, solutions, spirit, and so much more. When did you discover you were a leader? Did someone tell you? Was it because of a job you held? Maybe it was when you organized the Christmas party? At some point, you knew the word leader was part of how others would describe you.

Now that you know you are a leader, what is at the core of your leadership? What describes you as a leader? How are you different from others? Are you like another leader?

Leadership is an ongoing process. It is something you continue to develop as you learn from:

  • Lessons you have completed on your journey
  • People you have listened to and watched
  • Associations/Organizations you joined
  • The networking you have done with purpose
  • A mentor you have gained

Knowing who you are as a leader is essential. Understand your “why” so you can help those you lead find theirs. This “why” is the core of your leadership. It leads you in “what” you do.

Everything I do each day is to make today better for someone. My “kids” (students) are essential to me. They know it too! The “why” in “what” I do. The “why” is the passion behind your work and “why” you do “what” you do. When others see your passion, your “why,” and purpose, they get excited because you are, your enthusiasm becomes contagious, and your authentic approach builds a strong trust.


  • Master your position- Be the best at “what” you do. Let others see, model. Share with others the “how.” Nothing speaks louder than this.
  • Thought Leader- Join in discussions, share ideas, read others’ work, create content yourself, acknowledging others’ work, gain a reputation of knowing and maybe begin a blog. Soon you may be presenting at conferences and much more! You decide the level you want to be at, but the most important thing is to help others.
  • Be a mentor or coach- I had/have mentors. They are amazing to learn from always. I have been/am a mentor/coach, and it is the best. Learning happens for all involved. Always be willing to learn and to share what you know to help others grow!
  • Focus on Future- What is your strategic plan, what does it look like regarding the future? Great Leaders have a focused vision, taking responsibility for supporting their team in implementing a plan to succeed today and in the future. By providing a clear path for the future you build hope. Hope is what is needed in order to heal, forgive, accept and establish the journey forward.
  • Reflection- take time to look at your core (Values, Beliefs, Vision, Characteristics-Integrity, Humility, Trust, Honesty). Make sure others see your reflection in the same way you believe you are reflecting it.

Thank you for being part of the solution daily. Leaders lead by example while lifting others. They willingly share what they know with others and always look for ways to provide more learning for those they serve. Leadership is the core to the success of all of our organizations. Thank you for all you do.

Positively Energizing Leadership

Positively Energizing Leadership is a new book out by Kim Cameron. He provides readers with a guided walk through the components of virtuous actions, relationships that create high performance, and the heliotropic effect.

This book captures my interest with intriguing arguments, thoughts, and points. I am a positive leader but never classify myself as one. I am instead a focused solution leader with motivational attributes to inspire the best in others. The basic message presented in this book is the thought “all human beings flourish in the presence of light or positive energy.”

The heliotropic effect is scientific in how plants respond to the sun’s rays. This scientific effect has not been verified in humans. However, throughout the book, explanations are provided through the use of relations energy and other forms of light and energy.

I do not want to reveal the entire book and want you to have an opportunity to read for yourself. The look at the organizational chart to training and how to hire is masterful in the thought processes. I am stuck on one piece I want to share with you and hope you will find some feedback to share with me.

In the book, an example is given regarding the handling of the Covid-19 pandemic of 2020. A comparison is made between Sweden and the United States. Sweden did not have comprehensive lockdowns as other nations. This is attributed to having a “high trust” culture. In having this level of trust, the nation had high levels of trust with each other and its institutions.

In the United States, on the other hand, public trust was described as being relatively low:

  • Only 22 percent of citizens trust media
  • 8 percent trust political parties
  • 15 percent trust federal government
  • 12 percent trust big companies
  • 22 percent trust their employer
  • 12 percent believe business executives have high ethical standards
  • 34 percent think other people, in general, can be trusted.

When high trust is not present, high levels of social control are required to ensure compliance and obedience.”

I believe the topic of trust is huge. Trust has been identified as a critical piece to every relationship. Leaders need to build trust with those they serve. I am confused by the statement in the book: “When high trust is not present, high levels of social control are required to ensure compliance and obedience.” How does this help in rebuilding trust?

I understand we have evidence of this occurring, but I do not know how this helps—having to have proof of vaccines to go to a restaurant, travel, or work? In the book, it mentions that over time trust is conditioned based on the behaviors of others. When core values of gratitude, integrity, honestly, and generosity, to name a few are present and practiced, this helps to influence the feeling of trust.

I always like to go back and read books a few times. Would you please pick up this book and share with me your thoughts? I enjoy hearing and reading others’ opinions. I like hearing all points of view.

I am looking forward to learning more! I enjoyed this book, and I know you will too! Positive energy creates an environment conducive to success. I agree with many of the points made. Great book to charge your batteries to boost your energy levels. Be the light to shine bright!

It only takes a spark!

“The power just went out; I can’t see a thing.”

“Hang on, I know I have candles somewhere. Oh no, only one match! I hope we can get the candle going with one match. Then we can start the others.”

Moving to the country on our own as a young family took a little getting used to. Planning out what was needed in emergencies like power outages, snowstorms, ice, and so much more!

Listening to the evening news, we hear about fires out west. It only takes one spark to get a fire going, and it spreads fast. This message was loud and clear.

“Please take out the red hymnal books and turn to page 495 and the song Pass it on.” My favorite song! “It only takes a spark to get a fire going. That’s how it is with God’s love.”

Putting the spark in Leadership

I have utilized these messages about a spark to light my path igniting the fire in others for many years. It is what leaders do. At first, I did not recognize it as a leadership trait, but it is! The best kind of leadership trait. It is support, passion, authenticity, relationships, and knowledge-SPARK, all in one!

As leaders, we do not recognize things as part of a “formalized” plan of skills. We do what we feel natural in doing. However, with this being said, leaders are constantly learning and absorbing ways to improve. They pass this on to those they serve, lighting a fire to ignite success.

In my solution-focused approach to leadership, it is natural always to look for solutions. When you focus on solutions, positive mindsets are the results. Supporting those you serve as they work to provide solutions is a positive part of the day. Positive support naturally creates a positive work climate where everyone feels safe, supported, and confident.

Showing our passion for what we do is a contagious attribute. The love we have is something we do not want to hide. Providing and sharing this passion with our team helps to keep the spirit going. Opportunities to try new things, ideas and to enjoy what we do.

During our time of support and showing others the passion we have for what we do, it is in how we do and not always what we say. Being authentic in what you say and do brings authenticity to how we lead. Authentic leaders and teams bring truth, honesty, and the spirit of collaboration. These components secure loyalty and lift the team to reach higher levels. This weaves into the natural building of relationships as the level of trust has been established through the work of support, passion, and authenticity. These components are all needed to work together to begin to flicker the spark.

The last piece most feel is essential. Leaders think they need to have the most knowledge to lead. It is not the leader who holds the knowledge; it is within the team. Each member brings their knowledge, strengths, and talents to support the passion for achieving success. The leader knows how to help get the team to the end goal as the team works together.

Take away

  • Support- Provide your team with the support they need to accomplish the goals. Keep the positive mindset with always a positive solution-focused approach.
  • Passion- Share the love for what we do! Celebrate the tiny, small, and big wins daily. It is contagious! Spread it!
  • Authenticity- It is what we say and do that helps to inspire trust in our teams. As this is established, loyalty follows as well as a foundation for our team.
  • Relationships- Building positive relationships focused on solutions keeps mindsets positive and establishes collaboration to accomplish set goals.
  • Knowledge- Recognizing the knowledge and skills of the team further enhances the foundation for collaborative success. Leaders only need the understanding of how to help the team utilize their talents together to accomplish success.

It only takes a SPARK to get a fire going, and soon all those around will: warm up to its glowing, grow within its light, shine brighter and be thankful for the spark! Thank you for being part of the solution daily!

My way, Your way, Our way….

I grew up really as an only child. My brother and sister are 16 and 17 years older than me, respectively. I have always said I was a gift from God to make sure someone could help this family.

My siblings, especially my sister, did lots of things with me. I think I was like a doll. The best adventure I can recall was going to see Elvis Presley in concert. I loved his music, but I was more fascinated by the way grown women were acting. So exciting to watch! He did it his way!

Watching my grandchildren play, I learned a great lesson. They span in age from three years, six years, and 13 years old. The two younger boys play together and are not always easy to handle. Their sister is quick to help settle disputes and monitor the playtime.

While vacationing at the beach, everyone found their place. Each one has a special interest in what they wanted to do. There were enough adults that each child had one to help them in whatever they wanted to do.

When they decided to play together after having their time, the conversations were so interesting.

“Hey, look, I found a purple-colored shell. Would you want it?”

“Yes, thanks!”

“Do you want me to help you find more shells?”

Fantastic how they were working together to collect shells. Now it lasted a short time as you know, attention spans do not last long and brothers, well are boys.

We took the shells back to the house to sort, identify and talk about them. We like to do art projects and make things; this is what they do with me. They each had a container to place their shells in, and all was good.

How does your team work together on projects? As a leader, do you begin with your way of approaching the task or situation? Are there opportunities to identify and sort out target points? Can individuals discuss freely and offer ideas?

In dealing with finding solutions, it is essential to have all voices heard and illustrate possible solutions. People need to see, hear, talk, and sometimes “touch”(move items) to understand the process.

If the solution is “my way,” the problem will stay. It stays because, most likely, I am the only one who believes in the solution. The same is true if the solution is “your way,” which most likely comes from the loudest one. It should be “our way,” providing ownership from all.

Think about the structures of your problem-solving teams. How do you handle issues that come up? Do you have a process to follow? Who is involved in making decisions and finding solutions?

Thank you for being the solution daily! It takes each of us working together focused on solutions.