The Highlands Company Blog

Executive Leadership is the Focus Of Douglas County School 2021 System Leadership Retreat

By Dori Stiles: Professional Development is at the heart of what I do, especially when I’m facilitating self-awareness and self-management of Executives for the purpose of enhancing organizations.  So, I was thrilled to be asked by superintendent Trent North to be a part of Douglas County School System’s 2021 Leadership Retreat.  The focus of the retreat?  Executive Leadership.

The 50 participants, which included the principals of all of the DCSS schools along with central office leaders, were exposed to a variety of speakers and resources intended to take their leadership development to the next level by incorporating an Executive Leader mindset.

Embracing a holistic approach to Executive Development, and providing opportunities to expand perspective, DCSS leaders experienced:

  • A preview of school system data to be broken down in smaller groups for a deeper dive analysis by Dr. Kristen Carroll
  • An interactive refresher of each leader’s unique leadership talents, guidance for self-awareness and self-management, and tips on leveraging the talents of others, from me, Dori Stiles
  • An analysis of civil vs. military Executive Leadership by retired Lt. Colonel Thompson
  • Some straight talk about executive presence by Nia Brown, which included executive etiquette related to dress, behavior, and communication
  • An opportunity to physically challenge themselves alongside fellow executives by hiking up Stone Mountain
  • A yoga session conducted by Genevieve Harris of Keep It Moving Yoga and Barre to incorporate and enhance self-care
  • Insights and customer service training by Caissa regarding how DCSS can put the Public back in public education by understanding the “competition” (i.e., private and charter schools)
  • An up-to-date perspective from the Chamber of Commerce and Elevate Douglas on the role the public school plays in economic development in Douglas county
  • Team building activities to enhance the use of one another as resources across the entire school system, and
  • Continuous encouragement from superintendent North as he set the bar higher for the school system leadership team

It was exciting to be alongside these school system leaders as they learned about the requirements for executives to have a broader perspective, a more comprehensive understanding of the connectedness of education with other community systems, and new expectations as leaders – all to support the DCSS vision:

“To build a community of lifelong learners who become responsible individuals, independent thinkers and productive citizens in a global society.”

My work with these leaders reinforced the importance of each leader being the best possible leader they can be by using their natural talents.  Grounded in objective measures, they were encouraged to express their talents to those with whom they work.  They physically saw who was similar and dissimilar.  And they started a dialogue about what they saw.

Grounded self-awareness can lead to targeted self-management and open communication.  It can also result in a willingness of each leader to offer their talent to AND ask for help from other leaders – a characteristic of Executive Leaders.  Ultimately, it allows the school system to succeed as a team in ways that individuals cannot succeed alone.

DCSS Leadership Retreat – at the summit of Stone Mountain – June 16, 2021

“My 30 years as a Highlands Consultant includes working with students (high school, college, graduate students) including over 20 years with UGA’s College of Veterinary Medicine and the Terry Business School’s Institute for Leadership Development, the Georgia School Superintendents Association, professional development programs for administrators and aspiring administrators in school systems across Georgia, and private businesses such as IBM, JPMorgan Chase, Manheim Automotive and Kaiser Permanente.”

Dr. Stiles is the Director of Training, Research and Development for the Highlands Company, as well as the founder of Turning Points Coaching and Consulting.