20 ways we’re being more daring in leadership
May 2, 2022
More than 100 female school leaders in California just completed a new online professional development series based on the work of bestselling author Brené Brown. In “Dare to Lead: An ACSA Academy for Women Leaders,” participants explored Brown’s research during a series of eight, 3-hour virtual sessions. Sessions were led by Certified Dare to Lead™ Facilitator Mickey Porter, an ACSA member with nearly 30 years of experience leading California schools.
Participants said the series provided a vital space to learn and grow with other women school leaders.
“I have so appreciated taking the time to clarify my values and my vision,” said Nancy Matthews, principal of Garrison Elementary School with Modesto City Schools. “Sometimes our breakout rooms were close to group therapy!”
Here are 20 takeaways these women leaders are applying to their practice right now.
1. Embrace the suck “Through this course, I have learned to embrace the suck! I have gained more tools to better navigate the suck.” — Macy Juhola, site administrator, Cotati-Rohnert Park Unified School District
2. Know the why “Knowing ‘why’ makes such a big difference in the ‘how’ and ‘what’ that you do.” — Nicole S. Smith, assistant principal
3. Paint done “I have learned how important ‘paint done’ is [describing what the completion of a request would look like] and will be using this tool in my professional life and my personal life.” — Winetta Belt-Vargas, El Monte Union HSD
“I’ve … been challenging myself to choose courage over discomfort. ... I have been pleasantly surprised with the outcomes.”
— Charity Hastings, Director of Purchasing & Warehouse, Castro Valley USD
4. Living authentically “[I’ve learned the] ability to recognize when we armor up versus live authentically when we are in challenging situations.” — Tracy Rohlfing, coordinator, Assessment and Accountability, Santa Clara COE
5. Entering the arena “Of the many tools that I am taking away, understanding ‘The Arena’ has been instrumental. Specifically, knowing and identifying which sections of the arena I see my colleagues and/or myself in. Hence, it helps me frame my practice in daring leadership. This has been so powerful. It is a game changer.” — Ligia Hallstrom, administrator, instructional program
6. The five C’s “I love the organizer of the five C’s [color, context, connective tissue, cost, consequence]. We all have meetings and plan for initiatives and next steps. This framework is simple and helps teams be more productive.” — Krista Fairley, middle school principal, Pomona Unified School District
7. Defining trust “It’s helped provide some vocabulary for difficult situations and emotions. In defining trust, I can better identify elements to attend to when there is a lack of trust in myself or others.” — Jennifer Oliveira, director of technology, South Bay Union School District
8. Know who you are “I’m learning about myself as a leader. Like Brene Brown says, ‘Who you are is how you lead.’ The training is really helping me learn about my core values and how to use them in my daily life.” — Graciela Quintanilla, assistant principal
9. Rumble starters “I use the ‘rumble starter’ tools from a place of sincere concern to begin difficult or challenging conversations. My favorite rumble starter is, ‘Tell me about your passion around ...’ to really dig in and get into the other person’s perspective — to gain the empathy I need to really understand the place they are coming from. I’ve seen firsthand in practicing this rumble starter a win-win solution for a seemingly debilitating problem.” — Roni MacDonald, assistant principal, Rondo School of Discovery, Corona Norco USD
10. Clear is kind “There are so many tools I have learned, but I really like ‘clear is kind and unclear is unkind.’ It really helps me have the courage to do the difficult things in my job in order to be an effective leader.” — Valentina Shibata, assistant principal, Tracy High School, ABCUSD
11. Be aware of emotions “I am much more aware of how I respond to emotions. I use this to catch myself, sit with the emotions, and not let them drive my response. I think this makes me a more effective leader and it allows me to see other’s actions as possible reactions to fear and shame, and leads to me digging deeper, or ‘rumbling,’ asking questions to build confidence.” — Janice Donyanavard, coordinator, Curriculum & Instruction, Eastside Union School District
12. Put your lipstick on “Anything you resist will persist. Step back and just listen, just sit with them. You have to practice empathy to get good at it. Take a few minutes to put your lipstick on, meaning collect your thoughts before acting. These are just a few of the highlights I have in my notes from this training.” — Kelene Blevins, Virginia Parks Elementary, Ceres Unified School District
13. Take off the armor “I have learned about taking off the armor and showing up as leader to help serve and support the students, staff, families and community that my school serves. Through this training, I have been given tools to drive effective conversations and create impactful relationships with others that I interact with on a daily basis.” — Erika Bowden, elementary assistant principal, Alvord Unified School District
14. Align with your values “[I’m] learning to live in my values and that most of the time when I’m having difficulties at work it’s because it doesn’t align with my values. I have used the rumble starters to have difficult conversations to help my teachers and staff move forward and the byproduct is what’s best for students.” — Catherine Aumoeualogo, principal, Creekside Middle School, Patterson Unified School District
15. Courage over discomfort “I’ve … been challenging myself to choose courage over discomfort. In the few times that I’ve practiced these skills and techniques, I have been pleasantly surprised with the outcomes. They were uncomfortable to start with but the outcomes were more than worth the moment of discomfort.” — Charity Hastings, Director of Purchasing & Warehouse, Castro Valley Unified School District
16. Vulnerability is not weakness “The skill that hits home most is vulnerability and confidence. Vulnerability is not weakness and takes practice. As a Black woman (the only certificated Black woman in this conservative county), vulnerability looks different for me among colleagues who do not have the same experience or reaction to their vulnerability.” — Amie Wilson Bird, director of Child Development, Orange Unified School District
17. Living BIG “Living BIG (with Boundaries, Integrity and Generosity) is one of the acronyms that is a foundation to meaningful leadership. The BIG lens adds clarity and focus to all situations.” — Michelle Boyd, principal, Pine Grove Elementary, Orcutt Union School District
18. Redefining values “I have redefined my values. I use them to filter my triggers in challenging interpersonal exchanges and modify my response to something that is more generous; attempting to work from a place of compassion and grace.” — Lisa Saxon, Director of Educational Services, Windsor Unified School District
19. Emotional literacy “Brene Brown states emphatically that ‘emotional literacy is the foundation of resilience, empathy, compassion, and self-awareness.’ More than ever we need this in our world ... to support all students, families and staff members to bust open myths, reduce barriers and share our stories that define who we are!” — Fran Hansell, TK-6 principal, Cielo Vista, Saddleback Valley Unified School District
20. Human connection “It has been a journey of self-discovery of my emotions and specifically in how I bring these to the table as an administrator. This course has been a reminder of the importance of human connection. This has been so helpful in post-pandemic work life.” — Kristy Curry, assistant superintendent, El Centro Elementary School District
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