Posts Tagged ‘teamwork’

This is one of those posts that begins … “I don’t really know where to start!”   There are so many emotions that have been running through me the last few days; however, I am not going to talk about these emotions in this post.

For the last 10 years, I have been principal of Ore City High School, which has an excellent faculty and staff.  They have truly made my job easy.  We had a good system going and I would hope that it continues after my departure.  We all have grown in our roles as teachers and administrators (in the last few years especially).  We moved from a district-led staff development model to a campus-based, teacher-led model which has allowed for the emergence of new teacher leaders and also has allowed for a greater connection and cohesiveness among the teachers and staff.  I truly believe that OCHS is the best campus in the district.   We were the trendsetters, the risk takers, the trailblazers for OCISD.  The teachers are always open to new ideas and challenges and I encouraged them to take risks, use social media, connect and collaborate with each other as well as with other educators across the state of Texas, the United States and Canada, as well as across the entire globe.  I encouraged them to always look for ways to grow professionally.  They accepted this challenge!!  I am so proud to have been associated with the faculty and staff of Ore City High and I truly wish them much success in the future.

Now as I move into my new position as principal of Paul Pewitt High School, I am looking forward to new challenges, new teachers, new students, and a new community.  I am very excited about this opportunity and the feedback I have gotten so far has been very positive.  Together we will make a big impact on our students as well as on each other.  We will connect, learn, share, and grow.  It is going to be fun, and I can’t wait to get going.


This post is taken from Jon Gordon’s weekly newsletter, Positive Strategies to Fuel Your Life and Career.


Jon Gordon's Weekly Newsletter


While watching the Oscars I noticed that almost every award winner said they couldn’t have done it without their team, family, and the support of others. The fact is no one achieves success alone. We all need a great team to accomplish great things. We are at our best when we are surrounded by those who want the best for us and when we are bringing out the best in others. In this spirit I want to share 9 ways to be a great team member.

1. Set the Example – Instead of worrying about the lack of performance, productivity and commitment of others you simply decide to set the example and show your team members what hard work, passion and commitment looks like. Focus on being your best every day. When you do this you’ll raise the standards and performance of everyone around you.

2. Use Your Strengths to Help the Team – The most powerful way you can contribute to your team is to use your gifts and talents to contribute to the team’s vision and goals. Without your effort, focus, talent and growth the team won’t accomplish its mission. This means you have an obligation to improve so you can improve your team. You are meant to develop your strengths to make a stronger team. Be selfish by developing you and unselfish by making sure your strengths serve the team.

3. Share Positive Contagious Energy – Research shows emotions are contagious and each day you are infecting your team with either positive energy or negative energy. You can be a germ or a big dose a Vitamin C. When you share positive energy you infectiously enhance the mood, morale and performance of your team. Remember, negativity is toxic. Energy Vampires sabotage teams and complaining is like vomiting. Afterwards you feel better but everyone around you feels sick.

4. Know and Live the Magic Ratio – High performing teams have more positive interactions than negative interactions. 3:1 is the ratio to remember. Teams that experience interactions at a ratio equal or greater than 3:1 are more productive and higher performing than those with a ratio of less than 3:1. Teams that have a ratio of 2:1, 1:1 or more negative interactions than positive interactions become stagnant and unproductive. This means you can be a great team member by being a 3 to 1’er. Create more positive interactions. Praise more. Encourage more. Appreciate more. Smile more. High-five more. Recognize more. Energize more. Read more about this

5. Put the Team First – Great team players always put the team first. They work hard for the team. They develop themselves for the team. They serve the team. Their motto iswhatever it takes to make the team better. They don’t take credit. They give credit to the team. To be a great team member your ego must be subservient to the mission and purpose of the team. It’s a challenge to keep our ego in check. It’s something most of us struggle with because we have our own goals and desires. But if we monitor our ego and put the team first we’ll make the team better and our servant approach will make us better.

6. Build Relationships – Relationships are the foundation upon which winning teams are built and great team members take the time to connect, communicate and care to build strong bonds and relationships with all their team members. You can be the smartest person in the room but if you don’t connect with others you will fail as a team member.(Tweet This) It’s important to take the time to get to know your team members. Listen to them. Eat with them. Learn about them. Know what inspires them and show them you care about them.

7. Trust and Be Trusted – You can’t have a strong team without strong relationships. And you can’t have strong relationships without trust. Great team members trust their teammates and most of all their team members trust them. Trust is earned through integrity, consistency, honesty, transparency, vulnerability and dependability. If you can’t be trusted you can’t be a great team member. Trust is everything.

8. Hold Them Accountable – Sometimes our team members fall short of the team’s expectations. Sometimes they make mistakes. Sometimes they need a little tough love. Great team members hold each other accountable. They push, challenge and stretch each other to be their best. Don’t be afraid to hold your team members accountable. But remember to be effective you must built trust and a relationship with your team members. If they know you care about them, they will allow you to challenge them and hold them accountable. Tough love works when love comes first. Love tough.

9. Be Humble – Great team members are humble. They are willing to learn, improve and get better. They are open to their team member’s feedback and suggestions and don’t let their ego get in the way of their growth or the team’s growth. I learned the power of being humble in my marriage. My wife had some criticism for me one day and instead of being defensive and prideful, I simply said, “Make me better. I’m open. Tell me how I can improve.” Saying this diffused the tension and the conversation was a game changer. If we’re not humble we won’t allow ourselves to be held accountable. We won’t grow. We won’t build strong relationships and we won’t put the team first. There’s tremendous power in humility that makes us and our team better.


Last summer at the TASSP Summer workshop I attended a session on Twitter.  I created a Twitter account during that session and that started me on the path to where I am today.  Now, one year later, I am going to present three sessions on using Twitter to build your PLN (Personal Learning Network).  Up until that point last summer, I relied on others for my professional development, but since then, I have been learning something new almost daily … and it’s been on my own terms.

I would like to acknowledge a few people who I have found through Twitter.  They have shared some resources that I will use during my presentation this week, and without being on Twitter, I would never have been able to find this information as easily as I have.  They are a valuable resource for me, and I am very grateful to each of them for the part they have played in helping me grow as an educator.

Thank you …

  1. Eric Sheninger – @NMHS_Principal – Twitter Resources, Apps, and Tools
  2. Daniel Zeevi – @DanielZeevi – Twitter 101: What is Twitter Really About
  3. Leland Rechis – @leland – Introducing Fast Follow, and Other SMS Tips
  4. Jerry Blumengarten, AKA Cybraryman – @cybraryman1 – Cybraryman’s Internet Catalogue
  5. Tom Murray – @tomascmurray – and Chad Evans – @cevans5095 – Google Doc — Weekly Twitter Chats
  6. Tony Sinanis – @Cantiague_Lead – Everything We Need to Know We Learned on Twitter
  7. Erin Klein – @KleinErin – Twitter for teachers: Erin Klein’s Awesome 10-Minute Video Tells All
  8. Jeff Herb – @jeffherb – How to Join Twitter
  9. Rita Clawson – @RitaClawson – Clawson’s Bloggity
  10. Sally Cariker – @carikers –Random Thoughts and Musings
  11. Jennifer Rogers – Technology Times in an E-Classroom

It truly has been an interesting year for me as far as my professional development goes.  I cannot stress enough how valuable of a tool Twitter is for educators, and I hope that more people get on board.  With Twitter you have access to thousands of teachers, administrators, and other educational professionals throughout the world.  There is no easier way to learn, exchange ideas and be in control of your own professional development.

If you haven’t begun to use Twitter to build your PLN, what are you waiting for?

Simply Lead

Today was an AWESOME day!

I was fortunate enough to attend Chick-fil-A Leadercast 2013, a one day event that is held LIVE in Atlanta, Georgia and broadcast to hundreds (over 750, I think) of locations around the world.

I can’t say enough about how great of an event this was.  Not only were the speakers and the information they shared great, you could also download the Chick-fil-A Leadercast app.  This was an amazing app that had additional leadership resources, You could take notes directly on the app, and, at one point the emcee, Tripp Crosby, Facetimed with everyone who had downloaded the app.  It was just plain cool!

The theme of this year’s Leadercast 2013 was SIMPLY LEAD.  So in keeping with the theme, I will share a little bit of what I got from each of the speakers.

1.  ANDY STANLEY — Best-selling leadership author & communicator and founder of North Point Ministries

  • Take complicated things and make them simple.
  • What is your core responsibility?
  • Create a one-sentence job description that describes your critical role, your unique contribution to your organization.

2.  JOHN C. MAXWELL — Internationally-renowned leadership expert, coach, and author who has sold over 20 million books

  • Take something complicated and make it simple.
  • How to Simply Lead — It’s basic math!
  • ADD value to people everyday.
  • SUBTRACT your leadership landmines.
  • MULTIPLY your strengths by developing them.
  • DIVIDE  your weaknesses by delegating them.  (let somebody do it who does it well)

3.  SONYA RICHARDS-ROSS — 2012 London Olympic GOLD Medalist in Track & Field

  • Make a vision board.  Focus on your goals.  Look at it everyday.
  • Focus on one thing.  Don’t multi-task.
  • Focus on victory … not what can go wrong.

4.  DR. HENRY CLOUD — Leadership consultant and coach.  Clinical psychologist.

  • Bring necessary endings.  Prune it.  Quit doing stuff that’s not necessary.  Keep doing stuff that’s vital for growth.
  • Don’t be a HOARDER.  Don’t hang on to the past.  Yesterday has gone — let it go.  This includes people too.
  • Focus your attention on the relevant.  Keep current.

5.  DAVID ALLEN — Best-selling author.  Personal and organizational productivity expert.

  • Crisis evokes serenity.  Why?  Because you’re focused.
  • Everybody has the same amount of time – 24 hours in a day.
  • Have a mind like water.  Don’t over react or under react.
  • Don’t multi-task.  Only do one thing at a time.

6.  MIKE KRZYZEWSKI — Head Men’s Basketball coach, Duke University and Team USA

  • You can’t hold back.  Don’t get side-tracked from your mission.
  • In order to learn and grow, you have to get out of your comfort zone.
  • RULES are externally applied.
  • STANDARDS are internally applied.
  • You must have standards.  Have your team “own” the standards.

7.  CONDOLEEZZA RICE — Former Secretary of State (2005 – 2009). Professor at Stanford University.

  • Recognize the simple things that you can do better.
  • The key to complexity is to see simplicity.
  • Even under the most dire situations, try to be an optimist.

8.  JACK WELCH — Former CEO of General Electric

  • Be straight with people.
  • Generosity Gene — Good bosses have it.  They love to give and not take.
  • When you say something is important, back it up.
  • Get rid of the high performer with low values.  This person will destroy your organization.
  • Make your organization a place where people love to be there.

9.  LCDR RORKE DENVER  — Navy SEAL and star of the 2012 movie,  Act of Valor

  • Calm is contagious.  Stupid is also contagious.
  • How can you constantly improve?  Keep reaching!
  • Lead from the front.

This was the kind of event that everyone in any leadership capacity should attend every year. As a mater of fact, you should go ahead and put next year’s date on your calendar — May 9, 2014.


It doesn’t matter what type of leader you are, you want to be successful, and your success as a leader depends on the success of your team.  We all struggle at times, and when one struggles, the entire team can be affected.  So it is best to create a team that has consistently high performance.  How do you do this?  There are three factors that can boost the performance level of your team.

What Factors Make Consistently High Performance?

  1. Expectations — expect your team to excel.
  2. Responsibility — give your team members more responsibility.
  3. Feedback — give your team members more supportive feedback.

As the leader you have to believe in people, hold them accountable, and give them a supportive environment.   It is your job to create an atmosphere of high performance by improving your communication with your team members, paying attention to details, and improving cooperation between your team members.   It’s about using these three factors all together, and by doing so, your team will respond positively.


Positive expectations have to be communicated to others.  Everything you do and say must communicate your positive expectations and these expectations must begin with the current reality of your of your team and organization.  Recognize the facts and accept the reality.  Acknowledge things as the are or it will be impossible to move forward.  Your expectations will have a significant impact on others so remember to communicate clearly and consistently through words, tone of voice, and body language.  When you expect the best, people will respond.


There has to be accountability both as a leader and as a team.  Lack of accountability paves the way for mediocrity, and without accountability, nothing gets done.  You must have clear-cut goals and make sure everyone understands what these goals are.  When the team is engaged in setting the goals, developing the plan, and measuring the progress, the more accountable they become.  The goals need to be proactive, not reactive.  This will create the focus for the team.


Feedback tells us how well we are doing, helps us stay on track, and make progress toward our goals.  Feedback is essential to helping everyone on the team grow.

Positive feedback should be motivational, energizing, and validating.  It makes you want to accomplish even greater things.  It serves as reinforcement. Negative feedback can also be motivational; however, it can be less energizing and validating.  Sometime it may seem as punishment so you have to be careful with what you say or how you say it.  Bringing out the best in your team means recognizing good work and reinforcing the desired behavior.  It’s about giving them positive feedback that makes the team want to keep doing the good things they are doing.  Not everyone will be great, but everyone can be better.  It is our job to help people improve.


Creating a team that consistently functions at a high performance is the job of a leader and the leader is only as good as his/her team.  In order for the team to be a high-performing team the leader must do these three things well …

  1. Expectations — expect your team to excel.
  2. Responsibility — give your team members more responsibility and hold them accountable.
  3. Feedback — give your team members more supportive feedback

And when done effectively, the team and team members will will thrive.

school design

Right now in Texas the Legislators are meeting and hashing out what changes they are going to make to public education.  We don’t know what will happen, but what we are sure of is that there will be major changes to the educational landscape in Texas.    In any case someone or some group will not be happy.   Here’s the big question, as I see it … as a result of this legislative session, will the students in the state of Texas be better off as a result of the actions of these Legislators?  That remains to be seen.

There are many arguments as to what our students really need.  Parents say one thing.  Business leaders say one thing.  Colleges and Universities say one thing.  Legislators … who knows?  See my point?

What do the students say?  That’s a great question.  Do they have a voice?  At one school in Massachusetts, they do.  In the following video, which is about 15 minutes long, we get an idea of what that answer would be.  I highly encourage you to watch it.  It really opened my eyes to the fact that, more often than not, we take our students for granted.  These students in this video could very well be representative of students in every state, and they should be given a lot of credit for taking control of their own learning.  And their principal should be given a lot of credit for having the guts to allow this project.

I would love for you to leave a comment and let me know what you think about these students and what could happen to education if we allow students to design their own schools.



This morning I went to McDonald’s for a sausage biscuit.  As I drove up to the speaker to place my order,  a loud, very grumpy sounding voice came through the speaker.  I placed my order and drove up to the first window where the girl with the loud, grumpy sounding voice was stationed to take my money.   She gave me my change back as she was yelling in her loud, grumpy sounding voice over the speaker to the car behind me.  She didn’t say anything else to me.  I was glad!

Then I drove to the next window to get my order.  The guy working that window was totally opposite than the girl at the first window.  He said “Good Morning! ” as he handed me my sausage biscuit.  He was friendly and had a smile on his face.  Then he said, “Have a nice day!”

As I drove off, I thought to myself, “What a different experience that was!”

Can you relate to this story?

How many times do we meet someone and their actions or tone of voice sets our day in motion for either a good day or a bad day?  How about your tone of voice or your actions?  Have you ever thought about what you do or say … whether you greet someone with a smile or a frown … whether you have a loud, grumpy sounding voice …  or if you have a friendly, have-a-nice-day attitude?

We’re in the customer service business.  Our customers are our students.  They go from classroom to classroom, teacher to teacher,  instead of from window to window.  What you say and how you act toward your customers, the students, has a significant impact on whether they have a good day or a bad day.

You are in total control of your actions and your tone of voice.  So remember this … you’re in the customer service business and your students need to have a great day.