Friday, November 29, 2019

A Duck & An Eagle

Mac Anderson, You Can’t Send a Duck to Eagle School—And Other Simple Truths of Leadership

Mac Anderson’s book, You Can’t Send A Duct to Eagle School was recommended to me by a school leader whose pursuit for equity in education mirrors their daily leadership actions. At first glance, it appears to be a simple text that could be quickly read in one sitting. That was my intent, but after reading “the duck to eagle school” mini-lesson in Anderson’s introduction I realized this first important leadership lesson would be one of many valuable exercises for my personal reflection as a learning leader.

Anderson’s insights are not necessarily written for school leadership, but they certainly can be interpreted that way. Here are the lessons I want to take with me and apply to my own school leadership journey. 

“You can’t send a duck to eagle school...You can’t teach someone to smile; you can’t teach someone to want to serve; you can’t teach personality. What we can do, however, is hire people who have these qualities...Am I hiring a duck thinking they will become an eagle?” (p. VI).
Caring and feelings drive action; the other stuff is just a tool. The bottom line is that the really hard stuff is the soft stuff: it’s the feeling of your employees and customers. That, in the end, is your competitive advantage” (p. 14).
“Simply put, when you have integrity, your words and your deeds match up.” John C. Maxwell says, Integrity is not what we do so as much as who we are. And who we are, in turn, determines what we do” (p. 43).
“One of your greatest responsibilities as a leader is to enable your people to be all they can be. Many times, the push with a little encouragement is all they need” (p. 68)
“...turn up your fun-o-meter! Having fun with your team creates a magical bond like nothing else can do” (p. 78).
“...the difference in a good leader versus a great leader is one word---humility. A great leader is never afraid to poke fun at himself and is always first to give all the due credit to others?” (p. 86).
Teamwork is the ability to work together towards a common vision...It is the fuel that allows common people to attain uncommon results.” (p. 107)

In the last chapter, Anderson provides one of the strongest examples of leadership from the author of The One Minute Manager, Ken Blanchard. Anderson shares the story of visiting Blanchard’s home. At the end of a late evening, Blanchard literally jumps up and excuses himself for at least 20 minutes. Anderson later finds out Blanchard made a late phone call to wish a long-time part-time employee a happy 85th birthday. “Ken saw an opportunity to serve and to thank his people. He doesn’t do it because it’s expected of him; he does it because he truly cares. It comes from his heart, and his people love him for being the servant leader that he is” (p. 119).

A true leader leans forward to be of service to others, not because they get to but because they really want to.

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