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When Good Leaders Choke (and Why You Should Too)

I got a new car this year that's teaching me all kinds of things. The new car is ten years old, but I believe it's what people in the auto industry affectionately refer to as "a good runner." (I'm hoping this means it will run for another 10 years.)

The only trouble I've noticed so far is sometimes you have to step on the gas pedal a little just to get it started. This is not much different than the choke button many lawnmowers and small engines come equipped with.

The science of "choking" an engine involves restricting the amount of air going into the engine, which eventually allows more fuel inside. This translates to a quicker start. And I think it translates to school leadership too.

The only difference between your lawnmower and school is that our choke button involves restricting the amount of assumptions you're making. This will eventually allow more listening to take place.

Because when we actively commit to listening better, we give trust and meaningful change a chance to ignite.

When trust and meaningful change are possible, there is nothing that cannot be done together. When good leaders choke, what they're really doing is empowering people to actively co-create culture together.

If this blog post resonated, you might like my newest book, Reclaiming Our Calling: Hold on to the Heart, Mind, and Hope of Education. The book tackles a tension many educators are feeling using a combination of stories and practical strategies. If you’re interested in technology integration, Renegade Leadership: Creating Innovative Schools for Digital-Age Students is a best-seller with Corwin Press. Both books are built on the belief that everything we do in education starts with relationships and connectedness.



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