Category Archives: Embodying Visionary Leadership

Lead Yourself – Leadercast 2018

Leadercast Live focuses on the leadership issues most relevant to today’s leader. It is a pairing of inspiring messages and rich interaction with fellow leaders who are being intentional about raising their standard of leadership, through a creative, energetic and memorable experience. My school division hosts this annually in our Centre for Education Board room.

It is an exciting time bringing together various PSD employees, vendors, students and community members. I enjoy the excitement energy and thoughtfulness that the day brings. I also like coordinating my hosting efforts by setting up an elaborate theme for the day! I have a fantastic and creative Administrative Assistant that is just so phenomenal. We not only want the speakers to be the focus but also the environment.

Our group was joined with more than 100,000 leaders for the largest one­-day leadership event in the world this past Friday, May 4th!

This year, the Leadercast Live stage featured leaders who explained the power and importance of leading yourself first so you can lead others well. I posed three main questions of reflection at the start of the day for participants:

  • What does it look like to lead yourself?
  • How can you intentionally develop your own leadership skills and style?
  • What qualities do you hope to embody as a leader?

We also had fun with the Lead Yourself and the May 4th Be With You theme. Some of us dressed up as Star Wars characters, all of the food and drink items were labeled with Star Wars references. Leadership books were on display. The tables had the itinerary and lightsabers. The food tables had huge Star Wars LEGO models as well as Leadercast Speaker quotes. This year we had a wonderful set of sponsors – Cisco Canada and Compugen Inc.

Check out the visual summaries (sketchnotes) created by @jgough on each of the Leadercast Live 2018 speakers:

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I also added to the Speaker lineup a few special guests to make the day a little more personalized. We used our Webex platform to videoconference in the following:

  • our own infamous MCHS Choir to sing Oh Canada to start off the day
  • Willa Black, VP of Corporate Affairs for Cisco Canada that spoke about the Connected North program during the morning break
  • 5 Prescott students on how they are leaders in their environments during the lunch break

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Overall, Leadercast Live always sends me away with many gems and takeaways. Definitely, a day that I look forward to in experiencing with colleagues and one that I don’t mind taking all the extra time beforehand in setting up and coordinating.



Habits: Make ’em Small in order to get Big Results


We all have them.

Some are good habits and others we need to let go if we want to move forward professionally and/or personally. If you are interested in habit formation and performance improvement then take 52 minutes and watch and take notes on this video. The speaker, James Clear, shares his work and other research that is relatable for any field of work or personal paths. This particular video was taped during Snaps, a leadership conference that unites key influencers from across the basketball world for a weekend of inspiration, leadership development and relationship-building.

While watching, think about some of the goals and habits your currently have. And write down any great triggers to change or move you forward as you listen to James.

If you are wanting to show this to staff and/or students (I’m in education), my suggestion would be to break down the three parts of the video. Show them on three different days so that staff/students have time to process but not too far apart that they don’t recall the information.

If you are working with colleagues in another sector, figure out what is best to have each part of the video work for your situation. If you have weekly meetings, then you could use each part of this video over three weeks. Or if it is during a work retreat, add more time in between the parts of the video so that staff can write down and do the suggested work.

  • Introduction (0:00-7:19) and Why do some habits stick and others fail? (7:19-22:03)

Ask staff/students to watch the introduction and write down any key thoughts. Stop the video at 7:19 and Think, Pair, Share. If time have some pair share with the whole group. Or those thoughts could be put onto Post-it Notes and stuck on a wall.

Watch part I which is 15 minutes long, again with some note-taking. Write down some systems thinking and goals in your current work, any triggers, list all the things you do (complete the Trigger TChart Exercise) and add a new habit. Share any thoughts with a partner and/or small group.

  • How do I know what to change? (22:03-37:10)

Watch part II, a 15 minute section of the video. List any of your distractions, try the Closing Open Loops exercise. Download and fill in the Eisenhower Box. Share some of your top information in each of the quadrant with a partner, small group.

  • How do I get started and take action? (37:10 – 52:44)

Watch part II, the last 15 minutes. Write down a pre-commitment statement or set up something in your calendar. Statements like ” During next week, I will partake in ___(date)___, ___(time) or any visual cues you might use. And if this topic is of more interest to you, download James’ Transform Your Habits: The Science of How to Stick to Good Habits and Break Bad Ones document.



Make Yourself Open to Opportunity

Kare Anderson is a super story teller and brings us into her world where everyone can make a difference. Not only are we all “smart” at something, we also can connect with each other and also connect others so they can network and learn. If our stories, our ideas and/or our products/services are presented by people who are startling (grab your emotion), compelling (show you there is a way) and credible (some experience), then change can and will happen.

It’s a great video to watch yourself, but even a better one to watch as a group!

Ask yourself/group – How are we using our collective talents to create a better society? Are there others (outside organizations/people) that we should tap into to help with our cause(s)?


Are You Brave?

Having another opportunity to host a Leadercast in our school division is just an amazing and unforgettable experience. For those who don’t recognize “Leadercast”, it is a day-long learning event with a variety of speakers focused on speaking on one particular subject from their own experiences.


This year the speakers were:


The theme – The Brave Ones – showcases one of the essential behaviors for innovative and forward-moving leadership. Those leaders who push their organizations into different paths and who are bold enough to think of both the ethical, social and moral pieces while engaging their people are the ones who we heard from today. It is not just those famous leaders that one needs to think about, it is important to think about everyday leaders in their communities who are audacious and driven to make a difference.


Whether it was in the journal in print or the Leadercast App, there was a Be Brave Checklist found in both. For each speaker session, (there were four) participants were asked to create their own brave action. Below are mine, so far….

Session 1 – speakers: Andy Stanley, Rorke Denver, Bill McDermott

  • To wrap my head around the idea of saying “wow” not “how” when ideas and/or policies are not meeting our educational standards. Then ask “what do I believe is impossible to do in our educational field but if it could be done, would fundamentally change our work?” I will have to think more about what I could ‘bravely’ be doing to answer that question. Currently, in Alberta the previous government froze $$ going to school divisions for the 2015-16 school year, however last week a new government was voted in. Could the $$ situation change soon? If it does or doesn’t, I still need to think further on this.
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  • Sketch created by on May 8, 2015
    • Session 2 – speakers: Malala Yousafzai, Peyton Manning
  • Continue to speak out for all students and my instance that the learning environment be set up in a universally-designed manner to engage everyone no matter where they are in the Alberta curriculum continuum. My goal is to support teachers and EAs and students to utilize available resources, materials and tools. It is also my goal that our Admin and any leaders who present or create workshops also think about adult learners and design appropriate, engaging and demanding opportunities for participants.
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  • Sketch created by on May
    • Session 3 – speakers: Seth Godin, Ed Catmull
  • I need to work on being even more curious, to think outside the box and share my thoughts with colleagues. I do have a great Learning Services team and school division whose vision is to provide “a place where exploration, creativity and imagination make learning exciting and where all learners aspire to reach their dreams” (including me!). Sometimes, I feel I may do many things at various sites and with other groups that I may not share clearly to the Team what I have been doing. (I try to share directly with colleagues, in my blog, on Twitter and via the weekly Online employee newsletter, but one can never share too much!)
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    • Session 4 – speakers: Aja Brown, Rudy Guiliani
  • Don’t be afraid to have Fierce Conversations with groups of people or even individuals. If you are unsure how to get started, Susan Scott’s bestseller Fierce Conversations or even the training will help you. I know that in my work dealing with school administrators, staff and sometimes students this training has allowed me to get clarity and clearly envision the conversation(s) at hand.

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I will continue to follow @Leadercast #leadercast throughout the year as well as subscribe to the Leadercast Now site (video clips and action strategies) throughout the upcoming year. I know that the 50 people who attended the simulcast were moved by the people and the theme.

What will you do to be brave in the work that you do?


Reaching the Rotarians


From left to right, President Nizar Abouchami, Brian Hauptman,

Nicole Lakusta, and Tim Monds.

Today I had the wonderful opportunity to meet the Rotarians from Spruce Grove who came to Division Office to learn a bit more about our Vision, Mission, Commitment Statements to Inclusion, integration of technology in the learning environment and how the largest bussing organization in Alberta works. Thanks to Tony for the filming and editing of the video clips from our presentations.

PSD Vocational Visit


Intentional Leader: A Guiding Vision

Monthly Theme: VISION

Week 4: A Guiding Vision

Visions endure

…..hmmm, how can I ensure that PSD’s vision of making learning exciting through exploration, creativity and imagination so that all learners aspire to reach their dreams takes hold in the work that I do? This week is looking at leaders who have established an enduring vision that continues to hold true even when they are no longer part of the organization.


When one is asked the question to reflect on memorable leaders who have finished well and have left behind a continued vision, I am sure that many of you can come up with 5-10 people instantly. Some of these leaders could be political figures, business persons, family members, etc. Ask yourself, why did you choose them? What did each of these leaders leave behind? As for myself, I found that the leaders on my list where memorable because of five main things. They were:


1)      Caring – they care about their role in the organization and take it seriously. They also care about relationships and employee impact on the organization. They want everyone to succeed.

2)     Truthful – they share the truth specifically designed for each individual, no sugar coating! They care about you being the best you can be.

3)     Confident – a leader with a solid self-esteem is not afraid to allow others to succeed. Just because they are in a leadership position, memorable leaders reveal that they do not have all of the answers and that’s OK. They are confident in what they know, what they are constantly learning and are always connecting with various experts found within the organization.

4)     Human – leaders are human and those willing to show and admit their mistakes are easy to trust and follow. People can easily relate to that vulnerability and therefore support the incredible amount of work that is asked of them.

5)     Passionate – even in the most challenging situations, leaders who are strong, supportive and collaborative are unforgettable.


If you have time, (about 20 minutes), check out Itay Talgram’s TEDtalk on Lead Like the Great Conductors which showcases my five memorable leader points beautifully. I believe that leaders see the potential in people, cultivate their strengths, develop individuals AND groups. See how these conductors pull out the ‘essence of potential’ (as I call it) within their orchestras.


In my own areas of growth regarding different components of the vision (definition, communication, continuity, strategy, commitment), I need to take and make more opportunities to link the daily work that I do with the PSD vision. (Yes, I commented last week on this, but it IS important.) However, how and what resources should I be taping into to grow in sharing and committing to this vision? This I need more time to reflect on besides this week. (I hope to share this further on in the year.)


Besides my own reflection, this week I was to also talk to three people that I work closely with and who are familiar with my work. They were to give me some honest feedback about if I left the organization, how would that impact the vision of the team and PSD? One person said that in order for me to leave, it would be prudent to allow for transition planning and time for another person to take my place. They believed that the work that I did as Curriculum Educational Technology Facilitator was very important and supported the work that administrators and teachers do every day. The second person said that PSD would need to find another person with my same passion and expertise of connecting learning with technology. And the third person remarked that they did not want me to leave so they did not want to discuss it! J It made me realize a few things:

  • I am making an impact at various levels and I feel appreciated.
  • I need to continue to equip team members, administrators and teachers with my knowledge and skills so they can continue to support teaching and learning. (I need to share even more with my Learning Services Team members? Do I share enough?)
  • I don’t have a transition plan in place and maybe that is something that could be thought about.


This month of September had me concentrating on being alert and attentive towards VISION. This takes a lot of intentional work on my part and with the people that I work with and connect with. I know where I am going, but inspiring others to join in on the voyage is also important. Actively listening to others and paraphrasing so that I get a clear understanding of where people are at in the VISION process is also very important. ( I need to do this more often!)

What excites you about your vision and the future? What are you hoping for?


Intentional Leader: Trumpeting the Vision

Monthly Theme: VISION

Week 3: Trumpeting the Vision

Unless a vision is communicated clearly and consistently then it gets “lost in translation”. One can see this loss in the funny movie starring Bill Murray, Scarlett Johansson and Giovanni Ribisi where Bill is an actor who doesn’t have an understanding of the language and Scarlett is a young woman with no idea of where and what she wants to do with her life. These two characters highlight the need that with respect to vision, “leaders ought to err on the side of repetition – repeatedly speaking it, celebrating it, and linking it to action” (p.12, Intentional Leader).

As PSD embarks on sharing its new vision with stakeholders and the public, it is important that each of us review this vision. I need to communicate it during my workshops, sessions, Learning Coaches and Key Contact meetings, planning meetings, PD opportunities. I also need to actively listen to participants, colleagues and the public as to what PSD’s vision means to them. Although this vision is shared via an employee newsletter, a journal at the Division PD Day in August, on the PSD website, on YouTube, Twitter and in Face2Face gatherings, what benchmarks should we be using to recognize if this communication of the vision has been effective? Polls, surveys, and/or discussions, possibly.

PSD has 4 key elements that guide the work (and the vision) of the school division:

  • Engage our students
  • Engage our staff
  • Engage our community
  • Stewardship of our resources

I need to keep these elements (and the vision) in mind , when planning my activities with staff and my Learning Services team members. What does this look like in my Curriculum Educational Technology Facilitator world? It also means time to dialogue with people as to what they believe the vision means for their work, celebrating the successes and sharing them with others in the Division. It means articulating that vision and truly owning it…..DAILY. I think I should read the PSD vision every day to myself so it is a reminder of what I am working for and with.  For those of you not familiar with the PSD vision, here it is:

Parkland School Division is a place where exploration, creativity and imagination make learning exciting and where all learners aspire to reach their dreams.

My hope is that this vision allows our stakeholders to find their true selves such as Janet Echelman’s story. Janet is a painter turned sculptor.

I would be curious as to any suggestions of how others utilize and promote their VISION. Comments are always welcome!