School Leadership, Organizing People and Processes, and the Re-Opening of Schools

As we are preparing for a MoASBO program on May 28th regarding the re-opening of schools, I have begun to think more and more about one of the most critical attributes of school leadership today— the ability to effectively organize the people and processes to make critical decisions.


It was this thought that reminded me of a chance encounter I had with a complete stranger nearly thirty years ago.  As I sat on the patio of a Bavarian restaurant reading a book, I noticed an older German gentleman slowly making his way down the sidewalk that was at the edge of the patio.  As he approached my table, I felt him hesitate briefly and then proceed past me down the walk.  He then turned, and came back to stand near me.  Half expecting to be caned, I looked up from my book to see a deeply creased face, and bright gray eyes waiting patiently for me to take note of him.  He smiled and simply said, “Danke.”  I gave him a puzzled look, trying to discern what I could have possibly done to warrant his thanks.  He continued, “fur die Marshall Plan.  Danke.”  I stood and shook his hand.  He turned and continued down the sidewalk without another word.


I sat back down, trying to piece together what had just happened.   This man was thanking me as an American for what America had done some forty years earlier.  It was then that it clicked for me.  The book I was reading was entitled, “Organizer of Victory,” part of the biography of George C. Marshall, the architect of the Marshall Plan for rebuilding Western Europe following World War II.  The elderly man must have seen the cover and felt compelled to say something.


The book’s title is lifted from a quote from Winston Churchill about Marshall being the “true organizer” of the allied victory in World War II.  During a time of great uncertainty, Marshall demonstrated one of the most important attributes of a leader—his ability to effectively organize the people and processes to make critical decisions.  Marshall, by bringing the right people and processes to the fore, organized America’s efforts to build the Army and Army Air Forces from a combined strength of less than 200,000 in the summer of 1939 to over 8 million in 1945.  As Secretary of State, he later organized the western world’s unprecedented efforts to rebuild Europe following a world war.  It was for this effort that Marshall was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, and that I, for simply being an American, was being thanked some forty years later.  Marshall’s ability to organize people and processes to make critical decisions literally changed the world as we know it.


School leaders are now being asked to make profound decisions surrounding the “re-opening” of schools.  The most important of these decisions will relate to the organization of people, internal and external to the district, and processes to make decisions relating to the reopening of schools.  Our school leaders will succeed or fail based largely on their ability to effectively organize the decision making process and the people to make those decisions.


This point is at the heart of our upcoming MoASBO webinar on May 28th entitled,  “Re-Opening Amidst Uncertainty: The Intersection of Law and Administrative Best Practice”.  In this program, our panel of superintendents and the EdCounsel team will discuss how school leaders can organize their districts and communities to promote learning and safety in the next year.   This organization will likely need to focus on certain key areas including staffing, budget/finance, technology, nutrition services, facilities, and transportation.  The interwoven aspects of school leadership and the law must be considered for each area.


We hope you will join us next Thursday, May 28th at 9:00 am, as we discuss how school leaders can best organize people and processes to make these critical decisions for your communities going forward.  For more information about the program, or to register for the webinar, please click here: