10 Year Plan

John Gulla’s recent commentary on independent schools includes a paragraph about how a new Head of School (for non school people, think CEO) could evolve over a decade:

There is a general trajectory to most headships. Year one is an all-out sprint to get the community to know the new head, to get the carpool commentary and general community buzz to be positive. If a new head is fortunate, there will be no divisive issue or external emergency that will derail the good efforts of a transition team setting the new leader up for success. Years two to three (and maybe longer) can be the consolidation of a new leader’s reputation and solidification of a set of relationships. In years four to seven, heads—in conjunction with the board, administrative leadership team, faculty, parents, students, alumni, and larger community—can begin to effectively weave their vision for the school into a coherent long-term plan. In year eight (or 10 or so), at the first board meeting of a year, a head might look around the board table and realize no one continues to serve on the board who’d been present when it had first offered the head the job. This is a point of inflection. Heads can now begin to spend accumulated leadership capital.

Though I tend to question narratives that appear to be too tidy, I’d be keeping this in mind if I were starting a Headship or a similar role in an adjacent industry.

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