In an article titled Communities of Leaders and Learners published in the Harvard Business Review, Peter Senge wrote: "Poised at the millennium, we confront two critical challenges: how to address deep problems for which hierarchical leadership alone is insufficient and how to harness the intelligence and spirit of people at all levels of an organization to continually build and share knowledge."
Over 250 Michigan school leaders from public, non-public and charter schools are confronting these challenges together in the MI-LIFE program that launched this month as they focus on 21st century leadership for 21st century students. At the heart of their learning are activities and knowledge sharing through discussions centered around the research on effective leadership skills that will ultimately improve student achievement. In addition they are learning to collaborate with their peers using wikis and online discussion boards, developing online surveys to assess their leadership skills, and creating graphic organizers to organize their thinking.
There is no rationalizing about why things can't change. Instead, their mantra clearly is "how can we"; not "this is why we can't".These leaders are reflective and self-critical. As Jim Collins writes in Good to Great, they are leaders who look in the mirror and not out the window to lay blame when things go wrong. They are seeking solutions to deal with the tough issues of improving student achievement, declining resources, and others with which school leaders are confronted realizing that they must be the first ones to step up to the plate if they want to see substantive change in their schools. By capitalizing on the collective knowledge of the group, these Michigan administrators are building a true community of 21st century learning leaders who have a passion to make things better for all students.