Category Archives: Leadership Development

Celebrating the Achievements of Others

This week in  my leadership course we have focused on the leadership practice of celebrating/rewarding the accomplishments of others. This practice is often viewed as “soft” or “emotional” but it is essential to organizations. Leaders who can effectively praise and recognize others will build relationships, sustain commitment, and improve results in their organization. In class we discussed these 5 steps that great leaders can use when celebrating others.

1. Expect the Best – strong leaders set high expectations and consistently demonstrate their belief in others and themselves.

2. Pay Attention – Great Leaders listen to and watch the people they work with and notice what they are doing well.

3. Tell the Story – Great Leaders share the stories of people who have achieved success, done something well,  or accomplished great things in your organization.

4. Personalize the Recognition – Great Leaders deliver thoughtful recognition that is unique and meaningful to the individual.

5. Celebrate Together – Great leaders bring people together to say thanks and also to reinforce organizational values and goals.


Challenge Based Learning in a High School Leadership Curriculum

Challenge Based Learning (CBL) is a relatively new framework for teaching that I think works really well in a high school leadership classroom.  This framework closely resembles real world workplaces as students work in  groups and use technology to solve complex problems or projects. Below is a visual of the CBL Framework that I used as a guide in setting up the practical leadership component of my courses.

Step 1: Big Ideas to Essential Questions: In this first step I ask my students to think of the major issues that affect our school. Some examples might be bullying or lack of school spirit.  Students have a deep understanding of their school and usually have no problem identifying the big ideas. Next you need to formulate the essential question for each idea. The essential question should be answerable through research. An example might be what causes bullying in a high school?

Step 2: Coming up with a challenge is the most important part of the CBL. This is a call to action that needs to be real and meaningful. An example might be to reduce bullying in our high school.

Step 3:  Working on the Challenge. This step involves three areas Guiding questions, research, and resources. Guiding questions should focus their research and ensure that they are gaining the knowledge required to develop an innovative and effective solution. Guiding activities are simulations, activities, surveys or interviews that will provide more information. Lastly, the resources might include technology or people available in the school.

Step 4: Solution Implementation. Students will implement their solution in the school. Often these take the form of assemblies, awareness weeks, fundraising campaigns, etc.

Step 5: Assessment and Reflection. I evaluate the students on the success of their event, how well they worked as a team, whether their solution contributed to their challenge and also lessons learned. They are required to reflect and debrief with the class on the process as well

The role of the teacher in CBL changes depending on what stage your students are at, However, I have found that I am mostly acting as a facilitator. In a recent post I discussed  qualities of effective facilitators, I feel these are really important in CBL leadership process.

Reflections on the #SJAM30daygrind

Today is the end of the 30 day challenge that was the impetus of me starting The Milla Times Blog. For those reading this for the first time, the #SJAM30Daygrind was an assignment in my  leadership class where the students were challenged to try something new or change something in their life for 30 days. I had always wanted to start a blog so that became my 30 day challenge. Throughout the experience my students were required to post their daily goals, thoughts, challenges, etc on twitter using the hashtag #SJAM30daygrind. The reason for using twitter was to create a classroom community that would support each other as they worked towards their goal.

The purpose of the assignment was two-fold.

1. To see if the students could follow through with a plan to achieve a long-term goal/vision. An important skill in leadership and also in life.

2. To see if setting daily goals is an effective way to direct behavior, increase focus, and help them achieve their 30 day challenge.

Here are some highlights from the debrief we had in class. I think some valuable goal setting lessons were derived from this activity.

– It is important to set goals that you are passionate about. This will increase your persistence and commitment during tough times.

– It is important to be self-aware and make a realistic plan based on your current lifestyle. How can you find time in a typical day to do (insert daily goal)?

– Setting Daily Goals help make your long-term goal more manageable and help you refocus and stay motivated each day.

Overall, I think this was a very positive experience. In fact, many of my students said that they are going to start a new 30 day challenge. I am going on vacation for two weeks over the Christmas holidays but when I return I am going to continue working on improving my online presence. My next 30 day challenge will focus on incorporating videos of my leadership lessons on this site.

Developing a Personal Brand through Social Media

After reading Dan Schwabel’s book Me 2.0, I bought into the importance of personal branding through the use of social media. In his book he suggests that amid our changing world   “a new breed of worker is emerging – one who feels energized and empowered by the exciting new world that the internet has created … Those with confidence, drive, and the ability to use the full potential of modern technology – including creating a powerful personal brand to define themselves and achieve their goals – will be at the forefront of this bold new world.”

Making an impact online is essential for creating a personal brand and taking command of your career. Social media can be used for personal empowerment, self-management, and networking. Twitter and blogging were two specific social medial outlets identified in his book that seemed relevant to my career in education.  I decided that this year I would focus on developing my personal brand through these two outlets.  I have only been at this for a couple of months but already I have learned a lot.  Here are few lessons I have learned in both mediums.


1. Make sure you fill out your complete profile and customize your background. Twitter is really another search engine.  When people search your profile they should discover who you are and what your about.  You should include your full name, location, URL to blog/website, a profile picture, and a short description of what you do.

2. Tweet Frequently! Tweet your own ideas, links to interesting articles/videos.

3. Link your Twitter feed to your Blog. This way every time you write something new on your blog it will be tweeted by your account. This is a great way to gain exposure for your blog and also contributes to point number 2.

4. Follow people with similar careers and interests. They will provide you with lots of interesting information and ideas that can lead to new ideas and knowledge .

6. Use twitter as a networking tool. Reach out to the twitter community for resources, help, tips, etc.


1. It is important to have a vision for what your blog is going to be about before beginning. This allows you to plan and prepare for a strong launch and also keep the momentum going.

2. Allow your personality, creativity, and opinions to show in your blog. Treat your blog as an in-depth job interview. What you write provides your readers with a clear glimpse of who you are.

3. Blog frequently. This is the only way to gain exposure for your blog. Link to your Twitter and Facebook pages which will also increase your exposure.

4. Create an About Me page. People who read your blog want some information on whose writing.

I began trying to develop my personal brand in hopes that it would help me take control of my career. So far I have really enjoyed the experience and look forward to seeing how it will impact my career.


Lessons in Leadership from Nelson Mandela

One of the greatest leaders of our era, Nelson Mandela, passed away yesterday.  All of my students are too young to remember the impact he had in South Africa and throughout the world. So today, I felt it was important to spend some time with my leadership students reflecting on his life and accomplishments as a leader. As I was reading about him and his leadership journey a couple of key things stood out for me. First, I think he showed us the power of finding the positives in every situation. I read that during his 27 years in prison he used it as an opportunity to study his jailers so that when he got out he would better understand his adversaries. He also used it as an opportunity to educate himself, he focused on reading whatever he could. Being able to focus on the positives allowed him to survive and even thrive during a tough time. I encouraged my students to choose this perspective and focus on the great people and opportunities that are present in their life. Second, I think he showed us how important it is to have a vision for the future and the amazing things you can accomplish when you commit to your vision everyday. Mandela’s vision of equality guided his daily actions as a leader and led his country to freedom and democracy. One of the reasons why I assigned the #SJAM30Daygrind is because I think this is an important life skill that every kid needs. The ability to develop a vision and more importantly the ability to follow through on a plan to achieve it everyday. Mandela showed the greatness one can achieve when you are able to do this. I hope that my students were able to draw some inspiration from this great leader.

Teacher or Coach?

The other day I was sitting in a PD session discussing the differences between teachers and  facilitators or coaches.  What we determined is that facilitators/coaches are always working to help their pupils develop ownership of their own learning. I realized then that in my job as a high school leadership teacher I rarely teach, yet I am always coaching. As a leadership coach my goal is to get my students to take control of their own leadership development. Here are some strategies I use everyday while coaching my leadership students:

  • provide resources and knowledge
  • ask questions and challenge current thinking
  • identify roles
  • clarify expectations
  • identify strengths and weaknesses
  • provide real life opportunities to demonstrate skills/learning
  • encourage reflection and discussion
  • Build Individual Relationships

For me, the shift away from being teacher who delivers content, sets deadlines, and evaluates to a facilitator who builds relationships, encourages reflection, and provides opportunities has been the best move of my teaching career.

10 Must Read Books for Leaders

This weekend on his Stronger Team blog Alan Stein posted a list of 118 must read books, I have posted this link below.   Teaching leadership and studying coaching for the last few years has led me to many great books on these topics.  I have narrowed my list to 10 books that I think every leader and coach should read. Here they are in no particular order. Hope you enjoy.

1. Toughness by Jay Bilas

2. Sacred Hoops by Phil Jackson

3. Mind Gym by Gary Mack

4. Me 2.0 by Dan Schwabel

5. The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho

6. Start with the Why by Simon Sinek

7. Light the Fire in your Heart by Debashis Chaterjee

8.  Embrace your Potential by Terry Orlick

9. The Go-Giver by Bob Burg and John Mann

10. The Old Man and the Sea by Earnest Hemingway