Meet Stacey Green. A principal who has worn every hat – including Interim Superintendent – in the same system her entire career.
And that tells you so much about her.
Stacey is committed to education. She is committed to her community and is a true servant leader.
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Prior to joining the mastermind, Stacey was what she considered a “networked” principal. For years she had been invested locally in the Kansas Principals Association and engaged with the Kansas Association for Elementary School Principals, even serving as a board member and interacting with principals across the state.
Like you, Stacey is a learner and has done everything from Twitter chats, to podcasts, to conferences in order to grow her capacity and share with others around her.
Before the mastermind, things were going really well for her. There wasn’t a “rock bottom” moment that motivated her to look for support. Instead, there were three challenges Stacey dealt with proactively.
Challenge #1 – She feared becoming complacent. It’s a leadership trap that many school admin fall into, especially when things are going well for years.
Challenge #2 – Stacey serves in what she calls a “small, rural, and conservative” community. Trends and innovations in education do come to her part of Kansas, but usually a couple of years after some of her peers experience these things in larger, urban contexts.
Challenge #3 – She served in the same system her entire career. There are advantages to this for sure. From a familiarity with the community, to strong tradition. But the challenge can be in “fishbowl” thinking – the blind spots and echo chambers that result in all systems – small and large; rural and urban; conservative and liberal.
In fact, Sherman’s (2005) research found that internal professional development is plagued by supporting the status quo. It’s hard to innovate if you are only interacting with people where you’re located. You need an outside perspective.
So after years of hearing about this thing called “The Mastermind” on the Better Leaders Better Schools’ podcast, Stacey booked a call to learn more about the mastermind and then decided quickly after the call to join.
“The most exciting part about joining the mastermind was the diversity. We have members all over the USA as well as Canada. Being able to talk to other leaders around North America has challenge my thought processes and what I’m doing in my building.”
One of Stacey’s first big wins happened on her first hot seat:
“As I said, I live and work in a very small district and community. I needed some outside perspective to help solve a problem I was facing. I don’t want to share what the exact hot seat challenge was (because it will get back to my community!), but I want to emphasize how much my mastermind peers helped me.
My peers really helped me think through the challenge and I walked away with clear next steps. This issue was ‘heavy’ but the mastermind made it ‘light.’ The hot seat really is incredible.”
This was extremely helpful for Stacey because she literally could not bring the issue to anyone in her district. Not only does everyone know each other, the issue was rather sensitive and volatile. The psychological safety and diversity found in The Mastermind made it the perfect place to seek help.
But The Mastermind wasn’t always easy for Stacey. Her first biggest challenge occurred during her first meeting.
“I remember thinking these women sound very educated.”
(Stacey is in a mastermind cohort that is for female principals only).
And Stacey wondered, “Do I even belong? How will I add anything to this conversation? I’m not even sure I can level up to where they are.”
This would stop most leaders dead in their tracks, but not Stacey …
“I just recognized that self-criticism was getting in the way and by the end of my third meeting my mindset shifted. I said to myself, ‘I belong here.’ And it helps that Karine (the head coach) is amazing. I get notes from her that validate what she sees in me, and I always think, ‘Wow.’”
You wouldn’t expect this from a former Kansas Principal of the Year. The Imposter Syndrome is real. We all have it. But Stacey defeated it.
“The mastermind experience is incredibly validating. It definitely has grown my confidence. I believe in The Mastermind. That’s why it’s something I invest in myself, out-of-pocket. My district does not pay for it. There’s so much more I am able to do with the collective efficacy of my peers.”