Superintendents’ Cabinets and Senior Leadership Teams

Like corporate CEOs, school superintendents have comparable challenges and opportunities with their Cabinets and Senior Leadership Teams. I have found through the work of our Firm in large and small school districts that these comparisons cross boundaries of size, geography, complexity of the district, and certainly whether the organization is non-profit, governmental, or for-profit.
Writer Don Seidman pitches the practice of enlightened self-governance.  Here is how his pitch is instructive for school supers:
1.  Sometime the focus on the whole-team (Cabinet) would be better served by concentrating on some smaller subgroups where organizational tensions and behaviors lie.
2.  Invest in the quality of links between top team members and the rest of the company; because,
3.  Conflicts among top executives are often driven by broader tensions deeper in the school district or organization.
As we at Atlantic Research Partners continue our work for school superintendents through a process we call Executive Work-out at Atlantic Research Partners, here are some warning signs we have come to know:
A.  School districts excel or wallow in dysfunction through the behaviors of its senior leaders
B.  Superintendents often fall prey to the automatic notion that having a team in place is a precursor to launching the success of individual executives.  Truth is context matters.  Often the team cohesion comes after individuals are staged for success.
C.  Leadership team’s aloofness, from one another and from their direct reports causes an invisible but pervasive and costly level of anxiety throughout a school district or organization.
D.  Repairs can be made to broken or stressed teams, but usually only through a skilled-facilitator from the outside.
If you’d like to discuss our lessons learned on teamwork at the top, reach Amy Mims at or me at
Have a great week!

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