The Highlands Company Blog

Georgia’s School Leaders Link Performance Goals to Natural Abilities

As a consultant for the Georgia School Superintendents Association (GSSA) for the past 18 years, I have had the honor of working with more than 1,000 dedicated education administrators and leaders to leverage their talents in guiding their careers.

Among the many programs designed for professional development for Georgia school districts, GSSA’s Superintendent Professional Development Program (SPDP) and District Office Professional Development Program (DOPDP) have been most effective in enhancing the capacity of individual and collective leadership.

This past October, 22 education administrators participated in the DOPDP 2017-2018 program to understand how their natural talents influence their work with principals, colleagues, and superintendents to achieve system-wide goals. Participants completed the Highlands Ability Battery (HAB) and studied their Leader Reports to determine how their personal strengths helped them to achieve key results. They also considered how their personal strengths might make specific shifts into future roles more challenging.

These 22 administrators also participated in a 2-day Authentic Leadership workshop focusing on integrating the eight critical factors; abilities, skills, interests, personal style, values, family influences, goals and stage of career as they consider future roles and responsibilities. Understanding school system cultures, strategic plans, and student populations vary widely across the state, this program guides members to maximizing their performance in their current position or finding their best fit when moving into different responsibilities.

Participant Feedback

Here’s what participants said:

“The journey from evaluating ourselves to identifying where we may want to go was powerful – evaluation to realization!!!”

“Very good information to help me understand my core values and to identify areas to focus on in the future.”

“The Highlands Ability Battery test helped me to reflect on my personal strengths and weaknesses which will help me be a better worker in my current and future employment opportunities. Thanks so much!

“This was amazing and a true learning experience!”

“The segment on how to apply Learning and Communication abilities was especially helpful. The facilitator was very knowledgeable and I loved the active nature of the workshop.”

The Value of the HAB

The Superintendent Professional Development Program (SPDP) is a 2-year innovative and challenging leadership experience designed for both aspiring and newly appointed school superintendents. This fall, 28 SPDP participants also took the HAB, received an individual debrief and Leader Report, and attended the 2-day Authentic Leadership workshop. Participants were provided with practical data and detailed definitions of abilities-based differences in management, problem solving and communication styles. Combined with the customized “Tips” from their Highlands Leader Reports, these leaders identified ways to leverage their strengths to work more productively with all of their stakeholders.

The value to school leaders taking the HAB and attending a group feedback session is not only in what they learn about themselves but in what they learn about others. Every participant leaves equipped with an objective language to describe talents, a tool to identify blind spots and a method to assess fit with job responsibilities. For superintendents, fit is often related to how they delegate responsibilities. For aspiring superintendents fit is often related to assessing potential job opportunities. Either way, self-knowledge and knowledge of others is essential for success of the contemporary leader in public education.

Over these many years, participant feedback has been consistent. At an individual level, the knowledge of how to complete work responsibilities, solve problems and communicate in ways that leverage your talents is invaluable. Georgia school leaders have reported that the foundation of understanding their HAB results provides a springboard to guide their personal careers AND their school districts to be more effective in responding to the needs and demands of colleagues, parents, students, school boards and the community at large.

I consider being invited back 18 years in a row a measure of the success of using the HAB and Authentic Leadership workshop as part of GSSA’s professional development of school leaders. And, as previous aspiring superintendents move into leadership positions, they are bringing the HAB and 1- day workshop into their own school systems to prepare their local Aspiring Leaders. We truly are building on a foundation of strengths!

Programs Facilitated by Dr. Stiles

GSSA Coaching Program: Provide on-going training for state association’s coach-mentor program
Coach to Superintendents: Coach for select superintendents through GSSA’s coach-mentor program
Georgia School Boards Association: Team transition assistance
Carrollton City Schools: Professional development for system administrators
Coweta County Schools: 360 feedback to system leaders
Douglas County Schools: Professional development for all principals
Forsyth County Schools: Leadership development for cabinet
Green County Schools: System leadership team development
High Shoals Elementary School: School leadership team development
Manassas City Schools: 4 Superintendent’s Retreats, professional development for all central office and school leaders around natural abilities, coaching conversations, difficult conversations, and communication
Newton County Schools: Aspiring Leaders
Richmond County Schools: District Leader retreat with both personal and team development
Troup County Schools: Aspiring Leaders program
Muscogee County School District: Accelerated development for new principals
Pierce and Morgan County School Systems: Team development for new leadership of school systems
Dublin Middle School: Team development for new leadership of middle school
Gordon County High School: Taking high school leadership team to next level
Dalton City School System: Leadership doing more with less
City School of Decatur: Personal growth for all leaders
Lamar County School System: Board of Education and system leadership partner up
Rockdale County School System: Leaders prepare second-order change
Fulton County School System: 360 Degree feedback for top leaders
Oconee County School System: Leadership retreat
Muscogee County School System: In conjunction with GSSA, installation of Executive Coaching Program
Winder-Barrow County Schools: Leadership development workshop for cabinet
Paulding County Schools: Leadership Team development workshop
Dalton City Schools: Leadership Team development workshop
Gwinnett County School System: School Leadership development workshop
Bleckley County School System: Leadership retreat

dori stiles Highlands Company certified consultantDr. Stiles is the Director of Training, Research and Development for the Highlands Company, as well as the Owner of Turning Points Coaching and Consulting. To learn more about Dr. Stiles, click here.