The key element that sets the incredibly effective leader apart from everyone else is their commitment to never settle for less than the very best. This internal drive is what fuels the grind and what allows for the seemingly impossible to be done. This drive indicates one thing. It is a daily symbol of the leader’s firm recognition that they are unfinished. It is the personification of never being satisfied. It is the commitment to drain every last ounce of talent from our bodies while we have an opportunity to serve.
In The Unfinished Leader: A School Leadership Framework for Growth and Development, PJ, Nick, and Mike leverage decades of school and school system leadership and national and international leadership development and share the what, the how, and the why on the leader's journey. This book highlights the key characteristics of an effective leader: humble, vulnerable, courageous, open-minded, and inclusive and shows how these characteristics mixed with the mindset that personal development is never finished is necessary to achieve the lofty goals required to best support our kids and our communities.
This book asserts that leadership is not an event to be conquered and checked off of a list. Leadership is a journey, and the zenith of our individual journeys is never quite attainable as the very best among us continue to drive forward tirelessly to become better versions of themselves. This book is a guidepost to help leaders understand they are works in progress and to help create a vision for their individual futures.
Michael Lubelfeld, Nick Polyak, and PJ Caposey are authors, presenters, superintendents, and friends. They are accomplished leaders who, like us all, are unfinished works in progress.
Part I: Empathy
Chapter 1. Get into the Conversation
Chapter 2. Connect to Get Better
Part II: Equity
Chapter 3. All Means All
Chapter 4. Maslow Before Bloom
Chapter 5. Access to Learning
Part III: Adapt
Chapter 6. The Value of New Points of View
Chapter 7. Partner with Others
Part IV: Develop
Chapter 8. Impactful Adult Learning
Chapter 9. Self-Care and Work-Life Integration
Chapter 10. Equitable Leadership Development
Part V: Communicate
Chapter 11. Tell Your Story
Chapter 12. Manage Change with New Information
Part VI: Unfinished
Chapter 13. Stop Fearing Change
Chapter 14. Stop Letting Others Limit You
Chapter 15. Stop Letting Your Organization Live in the Past
Epilogue: Voices from the Field
Rosa Isiah, Educational Leader, Author, Speaker, Social Justice Advocate, California
Courtney Orzel, Assoc Executive Director Illinois Association of School Administrators, Illinois
Kristine Gilmore, Superintendent, DC Everest Schools, Wisconsin
Susan Enfield, Superintendent, Highline Schools, Washington
Joe Sanfelippo, Superintendent, Fall Creek, Wisconsin
Brad Black, CEO & President HUMANeX Ventures, Nebraska-Michigan
Jeff Zoul, Educational Consultant, Author, Speaker, Illinois
Julie Adams, Educational Consultant, Author, Speaker, Illinois
Larry Ferlazzo, Teacher, Writer, California
Adam Welcome, Educator, Author, Speaker, California
Brian Creasman, Superintendent, Author, Kentucky
About the Authors
The Unfinished Leader: A School Leadership Framework for Growth and Development is a detailed Rosetta Stone translation of how to be an effective and significant school leader, from the district office to the classroom; a rich source of both inspiration and guidance in these turbulent times. Every current and aspiring educator who hopes to help lead their schools through the inevitable changes of the coming years will want this book not just on their bookshelf, but on their nightstand.
High-performing leaders understand that all great journeys remain Unfinished. As Lubelfeld, Polyak, and Caposey have highlighted, the work in public education continues to need polishing. Though public education has made remarkable advancements in the areas of achievement gaps, equity, technology integration, and personalized learning, the journey remains Unfinished. The authors highlight critical and timely elements in education that all school and district leaders face in 2021 as we navigate the complexities of a global pandemic and the quest for social justice in America. Mike, Nick, and PJ communicate well that every leader can become change agents. The key, as they point out through practical examples, is to transcend status-quo thinking and focus on never arriving at the finish line, but always looking toward the Unfinished horizon of possibilities for students!
Combining years of experience as effective leaders Lubelfeld, Polyak, and Caposey provide aspiring and practicing leaders with a call to be a better leader by embracing the state of being unfinished. Truly this book includes valuable insights for everyone, not just leaders. It is a call to be reflective, to be honest with yourself, to be empathic, to be open to change. Accepting that being a work in progress, or unfinished as the authors say, is intimidating. It means accepting the uncertainty that comes with it. To be an unfinished leader may take some unlearning, but in the end the unfinished leader will be a role model for their students and their staff. While we tend to think that finishing something is an accomplishment, this book argues that being an unfinished leader is an accomplishment. Being an unfinished leader is really about creating that constant culture of learning, creating a drive to continuously improve, and advocating for your school community.
Throughout this book, the authors provide an argument as to the importance and benefits of being an unfinished leader. They give the reader actionable steps, key takeaways, and reflective questions to help them to become unfinished and to use this book as a tool for growth. The authors address issues at the micro, meso, and macro levels of analysis. In other words, the authors focus on the leader needing to look inward and think about relationships but then also discuss the implications and applications for schools, districts, and beyond. There is a constant back and forth between looking inward and outward. You have to be honest and reflective with yourself but also recognize that you are working with others and for others.
Being an effective leader is not just about reading the right books and trying to replicate them. It is about being reflective (who you are, who you are not, who your students/staff need you to be), owning your core values, and living them. Lubelfeld, Polyak, and Caposey challenge leaders to take the time, courage, and commitment to be that reflective, unfinished leader.