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Learning from and with others

Edward Bunn, Ed. D.

As a young head of school, I remember a formidable conversation with an experienced teacher. This conversation took place in the parking lot after a highly engaging staff meeting. The primary focus of the planning session was to give intentional space to help develop a culture of “learning from and with others.” My wise colleague simply said, “I do not care if you leverage any of the ideas presented today. I only care that you listened.”

Since this formidable dialogue, I set a personal goal to “listen authentically.” This requires being fully present, open, and reflective.  Active and authentic listening uncovers the amazing gifts and brilliance of others. Each person on our team is unique and a primary source of healthy solutions.

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Also, “lean into” the ideas of others. There are no wrong answers in the ideation stage. Even bad ideas help develop exceptional answers.  This process creates rich and valuable outcomes, such as a deeper ownership of mission, perspective, innovation, empathy, trust, and inclusivity—no more us vs. them.

Another aspect of strategic collaboration is “lead by celebrating.” Honour team members who generate innovative solutions and always value the process of learning from and with others. In my early days of leadership, I needed to be the one with the great ideas and the right solutions. As I matured as a leader, God opened my eyes to the value of collaboration and the wisdom of others. It became both liberating and refreshing to rest in knowing that “I” do not have to have all the answers for the organisation.

Truly there is something special about doing life and leadership together – learning from and with others.

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