From the Superintendent’s Desk

Staff Writer
Story City Herald

Leadership is not about titles, positions or flow charts. It is about one life influencing another.

John C. Maxwell

—by Matt Patton

Each year the Roland-Story administrative team engages in a book study, or two. We read and discuss books that emphasize key leadership principles or explore important educational trends and approaches. Regardless of the books we choose, the focus is always on getting better at what we do and finding ways to improve as individuals and as district leaders.

The administrative team recently completed, LEAD…for God’s Sake! by Todd Gongwer. Amazon.com provides an overview of the book that states: “The lives of an intensely-driven basketball coach, an ultra-successful CEO, and an unassuming janitor all intersect in this captivating parable about leadership, relationships, and the pursuit of success. An unforgettable story packed with profound truths, LEAD…for God’s Sake! will challenge you to think deeply about who you are as a leader, what success means to you, and why you do what you do. Whether you’re leading a business, a team, or your own family, this book is the first and most important step to becoming the leader you were meant to be.”

In this fictional account, Coach Steve Rocker, a Kentucky high school basketball coach finds himself in the midst of life struggling to reach his players, win games, and to be the father and husband he wants to be. He even contemplates his own existence, not knowing the purpose for his life. From his career to his family, Coach Rocker’s life seems to be ripping at the seams. Just when he needs it most, a godsend in the form of Joe Taylor, a high school janitor, begins mentoring Coach. Throughout the story we learn that Joe has been mentoring many students at the school and his influence even extends into the local community. Through Joe’s guiding hand and genuine care for others, he transforms the lives of everyone who will allow him the opportunity. Joe is the hero of the story, but it’s the deep void in Coach Rocker’s heart that is the driving force in this modern-day parable. Joe shows Coach, and us, that every pursuit in our lives must start from within the heart. People can’t live their life with lasting meaning if they are only pursuing material possessions, fame, or in Coach’s Rocker’s case, wins on the basketball court. Only when we lead with our hearts can we leave a lasting legacy. In this book it’s the wisdom of Joe Taylor, the high school janitor, that reaches hearts and demonstrates true influential leadership.

While the book contains many life lessons and leadership principles, it is where the wisdom and influence comes from that provides a surprise. Many of us would assume that the ultra-successful CEO or the championship basketball coach would provide the sage advice on matters of leadership. As is often the case in life, it is the unassuming janitor who provides the best counsel on true leadership and has the greatest influence on those around him.

As the quote at the top of this article so aptly states, leadership is not about lofty titles or positions, anyone can be a leader. Everyone can develop their leadership skills and use the influence they have in positive ways. These qualities serve people well no matter what their position, and they ensure that when a situation arises that requires their particular skills and knowledge, they’ll be ready to step in, lead, and forge a future that is better for everyone.

We all lead in some manner, whether it’s at home, at school, or in the workplace. Everyone can and should LEAD…for God’s Sake.