.Nameplate February 2013 Issue
Book Review                                      Online Exclusive


The Courage to Grow

Leading With Intentionality

by Kristine Servais and Kellie Sanders, Rowman & Littlefield, Lanham, Md., 2012, 192 pp. with index, $30 softcover

Book Courage to Grow

Kristine Servais and Kellie Sanders, both with teaching and building-level administrative experience, deliver an easy-to-read guide geared to support leaders in honing their strategies for leadership and change. The Courage to Grow: Leading With Intentionality is the sequel to The Courage to Lead: Choosing the Road Less Traveled, but it can be read as a standalone.
The latest work book uses the Educational Leadership Policy Standards: ISLLC 2008 as the framework for self-assessment and interactive assessment and growth strategies.

Chapter one begins with quote attributed to Michelangelo, "The greatest danger for most of us is not that our aim is too high and we miss it, but that it is too low and we reach it." Since leadership is an art, what better way to begin a manual that is geared to hone the work of education reform by improving leadership practice? The guide offers tools so the reader is able to take away the ambiguity and arbitrariness that is sometimes associated with leadership evaluation. The authors assist the reader with self-assessment that is aligned with clearly defined educational leadership responsibilities and competencies.

The book provides specific tools whether one is a district or school-level administrator, educational leadership professor, leadership candidates or teacher leader. Each chapter guides the reader in the creation of an individual leadership action plan based on the knowledge and activities gained in each chapter. The book and its lessons are meant to be approached interactively. For example, a principal may use the book to set a plan of action that school teams can complete together. A central-office administrator who supervises and evaluates principals may use it to determine activities that district administrative teams can complete together and as the basis for discussion with principals on how they are approaching leadership in their buildings.

The life of a school administrator leaves little time for reflection. This book provides all the tools necessary to conduct that reflection. The book also provides resources for putting ideas into practice, including ideas about engaging adult learners, and specific ways to celebrate, like traveling trophies. Readers who desire further detail can access additional sources, but the book provides a great place to start with a concrete focus on an admirable organizational goal. The chapters are not long -- one chapter can be read each evening, or even one a week – and they are packed with information.

The Courage to Grow is aptly titled. Great leaders understand that leadership excellence is much more than a concept, and that practice requires continual refinement. This book provides a leadership professional development plan that supports such refinement.

Reviewed by Marilyn King, assistant superintendent, Bozeman Public Schools, Bozeman, Mont.


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