How do you identify the next leader? What process do you use to ensure that the mission of your organization continues when the current leader steps away?
We had the privilege to work with the Lake Washington School District in Seattle for over six years. In that time, we used StrengthsFinder to enact positive change. The “Lake Washington School District is a high-performing public school district serving Kirkland, Redmond, and Sammamish, Washington. It is the sixth largest district in the state of Washington, with over 25,000 students in 51 schools.”
The superintendent at the time, Dr. Chip Kimball, credits the school districts national recognition for high performance, in part, to the strengths based work we did with them.
The Scope of our StrengthsFinder Work
We worked for the Superintendent of schools and did a multi-year, strengths based initiative with every level of the organization from the school board, all of the administration, school principals and vice principals, teachers and all new employees.
There are many, many specific examples with our work here. The best, standout example is with the succession planning for the superintendent. During our work, within the first year, we identified a school principal that we wanted to watch closer.
Talent we Saw in an Individual
This high school principal was a high performer and had the strengths of Strategic, Arranger, Connectedness, Intellection and Relator. She was so well respected, and we had such a great interaction with her, that she was recruited to move from one of the high schools into administration.
Her ability to see and comprehend the “big picture” of a large school district (Arranger and Connectedness), her accuracy in making specific, well thought through decisions (Strategic and Intellection) and her relational nearness to people (Relator) made her a strong presence within the district office.
It was not long before she was promoted to deputy superintendent of the school district. The superintendent, a strong supporter and advocate for strengths based leadership, knew she was the one to take his role when the time came.
Picking the Next Leader
When the superintendent of schools was recruited to lead another school, it was obvious to him and all of the chief administrators who was next in line. With the unanimous approval of the school board, she became the youngest and first female superintendent of the school district.
Our work provided the initial identification of her unique leadership capacities, our strengths initiative created collaborative teams that reinforced her developing strengths, and within a strengths based culture, she was better understood for her unique leadership skills, expertise and relational capacities.
Your Vision of Others
What experiences have you had in using StrengthsFinder to see the unique ability in someone you work closely with? Leave a comment below.