An enlightening take on leadership from an educator’s perspective.
This debut self-help book targets a very specific audience—public school administrators—but it’s obvious from the outset that Garrett’s wise words are applicable to any organizational or business setting. “Guiding principles reflect our values and lead our decision-making,” writes the author, a former school principal and superintendent. “They give our decisions consistency and predictability.” He puts forth a collection of principles in short chapters with sometimes-provocative titles, such as “The Art of Becoming Unnecessary,” “Embrace Conflict,” and “Misguided Loyalty Can Become a Conspiracy.” Along the way, the book covers a wide range of topics related to leadership, including fairness, delegation, hiring, policymaking, and collaboration. One of his pet peeves about leaders is that most of them “are poor listeners,” and he uses examples from his own experience to prove this point, helpfully enumerating “four impediments to listening.” One of his more intriguing ideas is the implementation of a “listening book,” which he gave to all of his own administrators. Although it’s merely a high-quality binder with lined sheets of paper, the existence of the book encouraged Garrett and his staff to really listen to people’s concerns by systematically taking notes on what they said. The author also points out that leaders often spend far more time defending and explaining decisions than they do making them. His answer is “the 90/10 process”: “90 percent of organization’s time is spent researching and discussing the proposal….10 percent of time is spent in implementation.” These are just two of the book’s simple but high-impact techniques that demonstrate how common sense can be applied to leading others. Garrett conveys a sense of conviction throughout while accepting differing viewpoints and encouraging collaboration. All of his examples are drawn from school management, which might suggest the book is only for administrators, but the principles themselves will have wide appeal.
A refreshing work that eloquently and broadly addresses leaders’ challenges.