Cauliflowers and Leadership… eh?

During my week with Kevin Bartlett, he would often refer to “the cauliflower principle” during conversations about leadership. He used it to say that things don’t (or shouldn’t) really change that much when you take on leadership positions in schools. He argues that the attributes, the skills and the values should remain the same… it is only the scope of influence that changes.

So, to give a few examples to explain this in more detail:

  • A teacher is concerned with getting the best out of his or her students. A leader is concerned with getting the best out of the  people they are leading.
  • A teacher is concerned with making the most of the talents and skills of his or her students. A leader is concerned with making the most of the talents and skills of the people they are leading.
  • A teacher is concerned with learning. A leader is concerned with learning.
  • A teacher is concerned with creating the conditions for success for his or her students. A leader is concerned with creating the conditions for success for the people they are leading.
  • A teacher is concerned with getting to know who their students really are. A leader is concerned with getting to know who the people they are leading really are.
  • A teacher is concerned with building positive and constructive relationships. A leader is concerned with building positive and constructive relationships.
  • A teacher is concerned with providing support and help for those who need it. A leader is concerned with providing support and help who need it.
  • A teacher is approachable and easy to talk to. A leader is approachable and easy to talk to.
  • A teacher is flexible and open to new ideas. A leader is flexible and open to new ideas.
  • A teacher can be light-hearted and playful. A leader can be light-hearted and playful

That’s enough of that! I am sure you get the point now and can make up plenty of your own examples. It all seems very obvious really doesn’t it. I guess the main thing for us all to think about now is… are you working with, or for, leaders who apply “The Cauliflower Principle”? If not, why not… and imagine if you were.

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8 comments

  1. @dwyerteacher

    Very cool. In fractal geometry there is a concept called self similarity, where the shape in question looks the same at larger scales and smaller scales. A cauliflower is the perfect example of that. There are a lot of researchers out there who are taking the ideas from Fractal geometry, Complexity Science, and Chaos theory and applying them to education. You would enjoy these links and books:

    http://www.complexityandeducation.ualberta.ca/documents/engaging_minds.pdf
    http://ejournals.library.ualberta.ca/index.php/complicity
    http://www.amazon.ca/Chaos-Complexity-Curriculum-And-Culture/dp/0820467804
    http://brentdaviscalgary.appspot.com/

    If you want more, email me and I can send you some great books or articles!

    Keep posting. I am loving the thinking going on here!

  2. dennis bissmeyer

    Very similar to Margaret Wheatley’s model for leadership. Look at the crack in a rock and expand it to a much larger scale and you will see the crack is similar in shape to larger areas such as the Grand Canyon, etc. Leadership, like nature, tries to to find its organizational balance and wellness. When you have toxic leadership the organization gets infected. While organizations don’t die a physical death, poor leadership can cause it to die a spiritual death.

  3. Pingback: Don’t “dehumanize” teaching! | Time Space Education

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