Character is a choice.

Character matters. We earn trust through our repeated behavior over time. It doesn’t matter what leaders say; it only matters what they do. As Tim Kight reminds us, “Talent is a gift. Character is a choice. “

During this Covid-19 crisis, my goal has been consistency and honesty. I know not everyone is going to agree with my recommendations and decisions. During a time of partisan division, this crisis has become way too political to build consensus for a uniformly accepted response. Our community is deeply divided concerning our covid response actions. All I can do is a leader is be consistent and clear.

From the outset, we have been intentional in our partnership with Franklin County Public Health, Columbus Public Health, and our Ohio State University CATS Team. At my core, as an educator, not a public health expert, I believe partnering with local health officials is the right decision.

I am accountable for my recommendations to the Board and decisions as Superintendent. My goal has been to respond to community members when asked questions. I don’t want to be defensive, but instead informative. Our plans have been influenced by the learned information shared by experts within our community.

It’s an honor to serve as Hilliard’s Superintendent and a responsibility I take to heart. I strive to live, and to lead, with my values at my core.

Create a Positive Culture

You don’t need to absorb the energy around you; you can create it.

The continued stress and frustration associated with the coronavirus is all around us. Covid-Frustration is real; we all must confront it head-on. We must be disciplined in our response when others are venting or complaining.

If we permit the negative energy around us to become our default behavior, we become negative. It’s easy to be among colleagues or friends and “join in” the BCD behavior. It’s easy to absorb the energy around us.

When we are disciplined in our actions, not only do we improve our mindset, but we can change the environment for others. We create the culture we desire. Of course, we acknowledge the impact Covid has on our lives – it can’t be ignored. But rather than complaining about it, we Respond with skill. We take action to improve the situation; we embrace productive discomfort and create the best possible Outcome.

When we utilize our R-Factor Training, we control our 20 square feet. We don’t absorb the environment around us; we create the culture we desire.

Passion for Growth

Our Passion for Growth is vital during this Covid-19 Crisis. We will stay focused on our mission and vision. We know growth requires struggle – it is uncomfortable. We embrace the productive discomfort that is necessary for continuous development and improvement.

During Covid, there is a tendency to develop a “survival mindset.” We must fight this urge. Embracing productive discomfort requires us to be disciplined – to Win the Moment.  We train ourselves to have a Passion for Growth, not to settle for survival. We have the power to Respond to Covid-19 (the Event) with skill; our action determines the Outcome. 

Don’t settle for surviving this crisis. Live with a Passion for Growth to Win the Moment.  Our Core Values don’t work independently; they work together in harmony. We Stand-up and Own our feelings and behavior. When we need help and support, we ask for it. Power of the Team is more critical in times of crisis; we lift each other when we are down. We support one another when we fall Below the Line. Each of us is challenged every day, but when don’t BCD, when we live with discipline, we achieve great things together.

Power of the Team

Our core values include “Power of the Team.” We teach our students to “think we, not me.” We will be more successful working together. We intentionally invest the time to care, listen, and communicate.

Our current Covid crisis has reinforced that we are stronger together. When we work together, when we make each other better, success follows. Our commitment to each other takes us to the next level. When we act selfishly, we are bound to fail. We are all responsible for creating a positive learning and working environment that inspires excellence. As educators we make an implicit promise to put children first. As an essential service for our students, we think “we” before “me.”

We must respect the diversity in our community – it is a strength. Differing opinions and perspectives create new opportunities. While we may not always agree, we are consistently respectful and empathetic. From our Board of Education to building teaching teams, working together is at the heart of our Power of the Team.

Stand Up & Own It

One of our core values is “Stand up & Own it.” We know that personal responsibility is an essential life skill. We teach our youngest students to Stand up & Own it; we expect our teachers, staff, and administrators to model it.

Acting with integrity is a critical behavior. We follow through on our commitments. If we say we will do something, we do it. We are open and honest with each other, even when it is difficult. We do the right thing – even when no one is watching.

Covid-19 has increased our daily stress levels; it challenges our discipline. When emotions are high, when people are frustrated, it is even more crucial that we “Stand up and Own it.” There are times we all act on impulse or say something out of frustration. I’ve “hit send” on that email I’ve later come to regret or vented when I’d have been better served “pressing pause.”

When we own our behavior and give others grace, we create a healthy culture. We make a difference for others when we act with purpose.

Don’t BCD ~ Blame, Complain, and Defend.

“BCD never solved a problem, achieved a goal, or improved a relationship. So stop wasting your time and energy on something that will never help you.” – Tim Kight

Covid-19 has challenged all of us. Each day, we are faced with departures from our norms and absorb real disappointments. From missing family during the holidays, to the cancellation of “The Game,” Covid-19 has impacted our lives.

The reality of our situation is that placing blame, wasting time to complain, or defending our undisciplined behavior won’t make the situation any better. When we BDC, we make the situation worse. Our negativity, our default-driven behavior, cultivates a counterproductive culture.

We all know people who always complain – who consistently blame someone else for their current situation. Social media often gives a forum for victimization and BCD. Blaming others for our current problems doesn’t create solutions; it creates more stress, anxiety, and negativity. The cycle of blame will never lead to improvement or growth.

No one is to blame for Covid-19. Our current situation is unfortunate and challenging, but it isn’t permanent. We all want our students back in the classroom; everyone is yearning to return to the traditional school experience. When we act with discipline, skill, and purpose, our response achieves the best possible outcomes.

Leaders Respond with Skill

Each of us is a leader; we have the opportunity to control the decisions we make and how we manage ourselves. Inside our 20 square feet, our area of influence, we choose how to think, interact, and behave.

The way I behave personally is what determines the culture around me. If I act with discipline, make intentional decisions, and respond to events with skill, I am modeling successful behavior for others. If I am consistent in my 20 square feet, I will earn the trust of those around me.

When others are acting out of emotion or fear during times of crisis, leaders must be disciplined. I “press pause” to first identify my emotions and secondly to hear and identify others’ feelings. A discipline-driven response is a choice; living a discipline-driven life is a skill.

I understand that this Covid-19 Pandemic increases emotions, fears, and frustrations. When people are hypercritical of my actions, when some people sink to hateful statements and attacks, discipline-driven responses are challenging yet required of me. I strive to manage my “R” with skill and be consistent in my behavior. I can’t control how other people act, but I can control how I respond.

Earning Results through Culture

“Leadership isn’t a difference maker; it is the difference maker.” – Tim Kight

Leaders inspire people and energize teams to do things they wouldn’t do on their own. It is the leader who creates the culture and models the behavior required to get the desired results. Leaders are willing to make tough decisions and welcome accountability for their actions.

Covid-19 has challenged our culture; it has tested many leaders. This crisis requires more than management; it demands empathy, humility, and reflection. Covid has exposed some leaders and revealed some culture gaps. In crisis mode, we resort to our training and our core values. If the desire to lead isn’t happening in you, it can’t happen through you. Leaders want to lead.

Tim reminds me, “your culture is what leads when no one is watching.” What are people saying to their friends? How do we act when working from home? I aim to be consistent, true to my inner core and make disciplined-driven decisions. It’s easy to get caught-up in either fear-mongering or covid-denial. It’s natural for emotions to drive default-driven actions.

In the end, it’s not about me; it’s about our students. It’s my responsibility to exude calm and disciplined direction. Our district will perform at the level of my leadership. Leaders respond to the everyday challenge of leadership.

Intentional Skill Development

“Habits are built through repeated action over time, and they can only be changed through repeated action over time.” – Tim Kight

In times of stress, during this coronavirus pandemic, my daily behavior is critical. My training with Tim Kight, the habits I intentionally strive to practice, prepare me to lead with skill. I don’t always get it right, but when I practice with purpose; I build skill. This 21-day journey, writing these blogs, is building skill. It helps me gain and maintain focus.

What I do every day reinforces my habits. When I act with purpose, I am practicing disciplined behaviors. Building skill requires developing good habits; it demands intentional practice. These R-Factor skills create a system to practice and reinforce the actions that lead to success.

Make A Difference for others

“Your R is an E for others” captures a simple truth – the way you manage your actions creates experiences for others. 

I consistently Press Pause to remember people feel my attitude, see my actions, and hear my words. As Hilliard’s Superintendent, my Response creates Events for thousands of families. The responsibility to Make A Difference weighs heavily on my heart and mind – especially during this Coronavirus Pandemic.

As a leader, I must first take total ownership of my attitude, actions, and words. I will make mistakes, and I don’t always get it right, but I must act with discipline and own it. I am accountable for my actions. Everything that I do has the ability to add value and make others better.  

Not everyone will agree with my decisions; this is especially true given the hyperpolitical and highly emotional environment today. It’s become commonplace for leaders’ motives and actions to become the target of hateful and vitriolic words, posts, and comments. Making a Difference and leading isn’t easy and demands accountability. I admire smart people who hold differing opinions and thoughts. I deeply value those who push us to be better through open-minded, respectful dialogue. These are people who also make a positive difference. Each of us is a leader; each of us has the opportunity to make a positive difference.