Book Review                                     Online Exclusive

The Brain and Strengths Based

School Leadership   

by Sheryl G. Feinstein and Robert W. Kiner, Corwin Press, Thousand Oaks, Calif., 2011, 224 pp., $36.95 softcover

Books Brain and Strengths-Based

When I first read the title of the book, I thought, “Oh, great! Another generic book on leadership.” As prophesy predicts and history reveals, I was truly wrong in my initial assessment, judging a book by its cover. Both authors brought a reservoir of knowledge to the table. Sheryl Feinstein is an associate professor at Augustana College in Sioux Falls, S.D., while Robert Kiner served as superintendent and central-office administrator in Sioux Falls.

The authors believe dynamic leadership affects every facet of a school and each leader brings unique sets of emotions, cultural imprints and social integration to each worksite. Strengths-based leadership requires one to become cogently aware of personal strengths and weaknesses and how best to put the strengths into action. This concept was substantiated by a Gallup longitudinal study that found that higher job satisfaction and income levels were correlated with people who concentrated on their strengths.

The authors explained that strengths-based leadership comprises four leadership styles: Executer, Relationship Builder, Influencer and Strategic Thinker. Rarely is a person only an Executor or solely a Relationship Builder; instead, leaders possess themes from all areas.

Clearly, each leadership style brings something different and important to bear in a school leadership team. Each leader’s style can stand alone, but when the four are united, it is like that proverbial quiver of arrows that is virtually impossible to break. The most effective schools, especially those in inner cities, are run by educational teams that fuel, feed and support the strengths of others, allowing their contributions and abilities to shine.

Reviewed by Leon T. Hobbs, president, Credentialed Leadership Consultants, Flowery Branch, Ga.

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