What Kind of Leadership Can We Expect from Chancellor Black? Who Will She Chose As a Role Model? As a Guide?


 
Cathie Black must have spent the last few weeks reading classic leadership books and looking for that role model, seeking that leader she can emulate.
 
Joel Klein always kept a copy of The Prince in his briefcase, his favorite quotes from dog-eared pages,
 
 A prince never lacks legitimate reasons to break his promise.
  
A wise ruler ought never to keep faith when by doing so it would be against his interests.
  
I’m not interested in preserving the status quo; I want to overthrow it. 
  
One of the historic leadership texts is The Art of War by Sun Tzu, if the new chancellor views her job as a battle, a war with the union, the maxims of the Chinese general might provide guidance,
 
A leader leads by example not by force.
  
Opportunities multiply as they are seized.
  
All warfare is based on deception.
  
Management of many is the same as management of few. It is a matter of organization.
  
The general who advances without coveting fame and retreats without fearing disgrace, whose only thought is to protect his country and do good service for his sovereign, is the jewel of the kingdom.
  
As a corporate leader for decades Ms. Black is probably familiar with the works of Peter Drucker, the “inventor” of the entire field of modern management. Drucker denigrates a top-down leadership organization. While the current department organization prides itself on the freedom of principals to make decisions at school sites it disempowers teachers and abjures the input of classroom teachers. Some “lessons” from the wisdom of Drucker,
  
Company cultures are like country cultures. Never try to change one. Try, instead, to work with what you’ve got.
  
Executives owe it to the organization and to their fellow workers not to tolerate nonperforming individuals in important jobs.
  
Most discussions of decision making assume that only senior executives make decisions or that only senior executives’ decisions matter. This is a dangerous mistake.
  
Teaching is the only major occupation of man for which we have not yet developed tools that make an average person capable of competence and performance. In teaching we rely on the “naturals,” the ones who somehow know how to teach.

 

 
Peter Senge, the author of Fifth Discipline and Schools That Learn  demands that organizations, to succeed, must become “learning organizations.” Senge offers no prescriptions for success. He believes that, in order to be effective, solutions must be developed locally, not by “specialists” who sit far outside classroom and school walls… practitioners must experience the messiness of change in order for real improvement to occur.  He teaches us, and hopefully, Ms. Black that,
  
Collaboration is vital to sustain what we call profound or really deep change, because without it, organizations are just overwhelmed by the forces of the status quo.
  
Business and human endeavors are systems…we tend to focus on snapshots of isolated parts of the system. And wonder why our deepest problems never get solved.
 
People continually expand their capacity to create the results they truly desire, where new and expansive patterns of thinking are nurtured, where collective aspiration is set free, and where people are continually learning to see the whole together.


Chancellor Black is the first female chancellor, from the creation of the New York City school system at the end of the nineteenth century, over a hundred years, the system leadership has passed from one male to another. Leaders who worked their way up the ladder, from teacher to principal to superintendent to school system leader. The last two chancellors have followed another route, the law. Black, without even a Master’s degree, has only her decades of managerial experience to guide her.
 
Is there a female role model? A great, powerful and effective leader who managed a huge organization. Carlie Fiorina lead HP, until she was forced out and her attempt at a political career failed.
 
Why not choose the leader of one of the great empires? Why not learn from Cleopatra.
 
Stacy Schiff, the author of Cleopatra: A Life, and a NY Times article, Cleopatra’s Guide to Good Governance  might present a useful guide to the new chancellor.
 
Obliterate your rivels. Co-opting the competition is good, Eliminating it is better. Cleopatra made quick work of her siblings … it happened in the best of families.
 
Don’t confuse business with pleasure. If you’re going to seduce someone …set your sights high.
 
Appearances count. You may campaign in poetry, but you are wise to govern in pageantry … Leadership is a trick of perception …if you intend to lead, look the part.
 
Under promise and Over deliver. It pays to sweat the details.
 
Control the narrative. Cleopatra understood well that storytelling mattered as much as decision-making …She discovered early on that it helps to have a god on your side – or claim to speak for one. She remained all times on-message, truthfully or not.
 
Of course if Black does choose Cleopatra as her role model she should be wary, if her political patron, Mayor Bloomberg, is defeated in his next campaign, she should avoid asps .

 

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