New School Leaders

"Great things are in small places"

Really?! You might be saying to yourself. Even if there are great things in small places, how can leaders ever compete thinking this way?

The answer is new school. Times are changing. Times are always changing. It's the leader of leaders who see the heart, soul and great things in small places.

The word "Pushover" often sticks in our minds from when we were little children. "Pushover" was a word stuck in Jenny's mind as she held her head high and walked out of a meeting defeated. Jenny had just graduated college and was the assistant manager at a retail store where she supervised a group of middle-aged employees. Her employees tended to treat her like a daughter and spent their days chatting and taking breaks according to Landy & Conte (2013). After the defeating moment she assemble her team and told them, "I need to to do what you signed on to do. If not, you'll get a new manger who is not going to be as nice as I am" (Ming, 2005, p. 118). Twenty years later, Jenny Ming was the president of Old Navy and was listed in Fortune magazine's "50 Most Powerful Women in American Business."

There was a time when the world was considered to be flat. Christopher Columbus was once a new school leader who believed that great things could be found away from the status quote. They say that the best slice of steak is against the grain, the best cars are brand new, and the best heart for leaders have been sharpened against the grain and are brand new. America grew out of those who were on board with Christopher Columbus. America has maintained by the enduring passion that we continually see in the hearts of new school leaders.

The Washington Post calls the movie entitled Hoop Dreams the most powerful movie about sports ever made. In the movie, William Gates and Arthur Agee are rising high school freshmen who see basketball as a hopeful escape from their desperate circumstances in the city.

In the movie entitled The Bad News Bears, a hopeless Little League team from L.A.’s San Fernando Valley shocked and amused audiences around the world with its gritty portrayal of youth sports. Rolling Stones Magazine calls The Bad News Bears the greatest baseball movie of all times.

The point is, Americans seem to love the underdogs. We have a passion for rooting for great things in small places. For finding shiny diamonds in the rough. But then there are also new school leaders who stay behind the scenes. New school pioneers we rarely hear of, but who also find great things in small packages.

(Courtesy:, 2014)

Steve Wozniak, for example, may not be a household name. But Mr. Wozniak started the Apple computer in 1976 with Steve Jobs. He invented the Apple I and Apple II computers, which led the new school personal computing revolution. This new school pioneer some pretty amazing things in small places.

(Courtesy:, 2014)

Admiral Grace Murry Hopper was one of the very first programmers. She pioneered the COmmon Business Oriented Language (COBOL) and created the first compiler program. She popularized the term “debugging” after finding the first computer bug (literally) – a moth stuck in the contactors of a computer. This pioneer found some amazing, and weird things in small places.

Other new school leaders include Entrepreneur and Philanthropist Mark Zuckerburg, Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, and Marty Cooper ("Father of the cell phone"). Each has discovered that great things are waiting to be discovered in small places.

It's in that spirit that we discover leaders really can compete in this vein. Times change all the time. For some, they have the luxury to elevate themselves at the expense of others. For others, we have the luxury of giving value to our customers which can never be taken away. New school leaders offer value not yet seen. Value beyond human comprehension. But how do we properly define new school leaders?

Landy & Conte (2013) are college professors who wrote the book on Work in the 21st Century. Virtually everyone in the 21st century will be called upon at some point in time to display leadership behaviors. So the following are a few guidelines for new school (participatory) leadership who add value to a lot of people and help make a lot of decisions:

How to Notice Decision Situations

- Evaluate how important an idea or issue is

- Identify people who have relevant knowledge or expertise

- Assess the likeliness of participant cooperation

- Assess the likeliness of participation acceptance

- Evaluate whether it is feasible to plan a get-together

How to Encourage Participation

- Encourage people to express their support and concerns

- Describe any proposal as tentative

- Record ideas and suggestions from small places

- Listen to all views without emotion

- Try to utilize views

- Show appreciation especially for the small places

Work in the 21st Century

Yukl (1981) identified several advantages of a new school leadership style. It helps everyone understand the circumstances required to make a decision. He says that individuals are more likely to identify with the decision and own it. It makes potential rewards and consequences more noticeable, thus increasing motivation. It results in better decisions to the extent that natural gifts are tapped.

With so much love and so many advantages, it seems like the new school leadership style would be universal. This is where caution comes in about the results of better decisions being made. It is possible that participants may lack the gifts required to make difficult decisions. Also, participants may be at odds with one another or a misleading group may swell. Then what? How will new school leaders pull up a "pushover" in small places under those circumstances?

In some situations, the quality of decisions may suffer. Victor Vroom and his colleagues developed a model to address these classical leadership issues (Vroom & Yetton, 1973). Yukl has summarized the decision rules from more than three decades of research on what has become known as the Vroom-Yetton model. Yukl says that this model and approach to leadership has made one of the most robust contributions to leadership research in the past 50 years. In agreement, we'll pivot the rules of the model to resonate with heart, new school leadership, and child safety files:

1. When a decision is evaluated as being important and the small places possess relevant information lacked by the leader, an individual decision is not appropriate because an important decision would be made without all the available information.

2. When a decision is evaluated as being highly important and participants do not share the leader's concerns for small places, group decision making is inappropriate because it would give all influence over important decisions to noninclusive and even hostile participants.

3. When a decision is evaluated as being highly important and the problem is unstructured, and the leader does not posses the necessary information and expertise to make a healthy decision, then the decision should be made by interaction among participants who have relevant information and expertise.

Research on the rules of new school decision making seems to provide support for its value. Although there are four other rules relevant to the corporate world, the success rate of adopting this decision strategy is very high. The model makes a practical contribution to new school leadership.

New school leaders always seem to find great things in small places. Even if it is just finding more heart. Times are changing. Other so-called leaders cannot even fathom next-generation safety in their decision makings. It's "All or nothing," Winner takes all," Dog-eat-dog." And that's fine. That's their thing. But new school leaders find unique and amazing products, services and policies not by jumping in the pack. But by innovating new technology and finding greatness in small places. If anything, our mantras would be "All for other," "Winners make winners," and "Cat loves dog."

Cat loves dog


Barba, R. (2014, October 13). 20 Tech Pioneers to Celebrate Instead of Christopher Columbus. Retrieved August 9, 2019, from columbus-2014-10

Epstein, D. (2018, June 25). Why 'Bad News Bears' Is the Greatest Baseball Movie Ever. Retrieved August 9, 2019, from culture/culture-sports/why-bad-news-bears-is-the-greatest-baseball-movie- ever-made-60636/

Hinson, H. (1994, November 4). Retrieved August 9, 2019, from videos/hoopdreamsnrhinson_a01b70.htm?noredirect=on

Landy, F. J., & Conte, J. M. (2013). Work in the 21st century: An introduction to

industrial and organizational psychology. Malden, MA: Wiley-Blackwell.

Ming, K. (2005, March). Shop to the top! If your mom were the president of Old

Navy (like mine is!) you'd want her advice on more than just performance fleece and flip-flops! CosmoGirl!, p. 118.

Yukl, G. (1981). Leadership in organizations. Engelwood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall.

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