When mission matters most, there is no room for ego. Our calling gives us courage greater than ourselves in the face of obstacles and opposition. We customize to local context while never compromising our values.

This tenet really has two orientations. The first is an internal orientation of how we relate to one another in the organization. We all maintain a posture of humility to ensure that we collaboratively come together to the very best solution, design, or decision. There is no room for ego in our organization. We are all intelligent, skilled people; however, we clearly understand and believe in the power of our collective capacity. We have no stake in idea ownership, which means that no one is intent on owning a good idea as their own. The Mission Matters Most, so our belief is that as long as the best idea moves forward, we have no concern about who originated that thought.

This posture is emulated best by our founding leaders, Shannon and Clark Buerk. No matter the situation, their modeling is to listen and consider all input, acknowledging and validating each individual as a decision is made. This humble spirit allows for all team members to be courageous, open, and honest, which helps us be more effective as a group.

Their behavior can be likened to that of a battlefield leader. The best leaders in those stressful high-stakes environments listen to the soldiers under their command and openly seek out input and listen intently as literal life and death decisions are made. What is so powerful about this approach is that once the decision has been made, all followers attack with the confidence that comes from their intentional collaboration. Nobody questions, nobody second-guesses, and everyone acts in accordance with the determined plan. There is so much power in this collective coordination.

The second orientation of Serving With Courageous Humility is related to our interaction with partners. We ask district leaders to take very difficult steps. Changing culture is hard and they must have courage to lead this work.

We maintain a humble posture while guiding these leaders to ensure we are truly serving each of them effectively as they take these courageous steps.

We cannot just push them onto the ledge and hope that everything goes okay. We have to ensure that, in partnership with each of them, we support the risks they are taking to do things differently to better serve their learners. We sometimes describe this work as being the tip of the spear. We understand their careers and personal livelihoods are at stake, so we ensure that our partnership is mission-focused to best serve students, while ensuring that the leaders carrying the flag of change are supported.

Chris Everett | Culture Design Strategist

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