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What Type of Leader Are You?

Wednesday, December 2, 2015  
Posted by: Christina Mimms
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By Christina Mimms, SAIS

A typical head of school likely experiences a number of sleepless nights. An upcoming board meeting, a financial audit, a potential snow day, or a serious issue with a student all can contribute toward the lack of good sleep. And with these types of issues, who is there to lean on? A spouse? An assistant head? Perhaps there is no one to share the load, leaving a head of school feeling somewhat isolated. Who better to lean on than a fellow head of school, and to do so in a room full of peers facing the same intense, complicated issues?

Vipul Kapadia of thinqshift is well acquainted with the challenges that school leaders face. As a leadership coach, advisor, and consultant, he helps executive leaders to work through problems, change behavior patterns, and function with more purpose to help their organizations achieve greater success.

“Vips,” as he is known to colleagues and friends, will serve as the facilitator of the 2016 SAIS Heads Leadership Retreat, offering his guidance and expertise to SAIS heads of schools, assistant heads, associate heads, and division heads. The program will be held April 18-19, 2016, in Asheville, NC.

Attendees will work in small groups to share their current challenges and brainstorm solutions together, taking input from all. While schools can differ greatly in their size, programs, and makeup, they also have much in common and may have experienced the same or similar situations. In sharing their ideas, leaders can learn different ways to solve the same problem.

“You can’t communicate only one way,” Vips said. “You need to be adaptable to people’s needs.”

Responding to a variety of scenarios, Vips will introduce Whole Brain Thinking to suggest new approaches to problem-solving. “How might we think of our leadership challenges in a whole brain way?” The way you think makes you you, but it may also stifle your successful leadership if you can’t attack a problem or situation from a different perspective. The whole brain approach uses every part of the brain.

As part of these exercises, attendees will receive a leadership profile and will take some time to reflect on themselves as leaders and their schools. They will look at their top three challenges as leaders and the top three challenges of their schools. In the last segment of the program, leaders will refer back to the situations they shared with peers at the beginning of the retreat and apply the whole brain methodology to those situations. They will see the value of the whole brain approach in real-life scenarios and will know how to take the tools back to their campuses for future situations.

A number of school heads already use this application at their schools. Jay Underwood, head of High Meadows School in Roswell, GA, has enlisted Vips to lead retreats for school staff and also as an executive coach. “I was inspired by his energy, enthusiasm, and intellectual vitality,” Underwood said. “He can put things in a totally different perspective. People will find him refreshing.”

Suzanna Jemsby, head of The Galloway School in Atlanta, also has worked with Vips as an executive coach. “It is the most helpful, professional coaching I’ve ever had,” she said. “Vips is incredibly personable and has the ability to see through people in a good way. He hits the nail on the head.” At Galloway, Vips has also worked with the administrative team and met with the board of trustees. “He gives you a sense of how you think and makes you aware of your weaknesses,” Jemsby said. He offers not feedback but “feed-forward” to help one grow as a leader and individual, she explained.

Growth and change require stimulation, and changing the way you think and the way you approach difficulties is an important step on a path to success. The whole brain approach offers a unique and viable solution for busy leaders, perhaps giving them more restful nights.

“Leadership is truly a personal thing,” Vips said. “It starts from within.”

This is the third annual Heads Leadership Retreat that SAIS has hosted, following the successes of facilitators Ian Symmonds in 2014 and Allan Calarco in 2015. Registration will open soon. Click here for more information about the retreat.


Calendar more
Institute for Heads
June 19-22, 2018 | Asheville, NC
This retreat offers an opportunity for thoughtful dialogue and engagement with colleagues on key issues facing heads of school and their spouses.

Dean of Students Symposium
June 27-29, 2018 | Asheville, NC
Develop a network of peers, discuss best practices on current issues, and gather practical ideas from colleagues.

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