Sage Oak Blog: Professional Development for Leaders

The Sage Oak Blog: Thought Partners 
Professional Development by Emily Horta, Executive Assistant, Community Outreach

What Is Thought Partners?
Thought Partners, facilitated by Larry King, Director of Community Outreach and Charter Development,  was designed to create a time and space for administrators and managers to actively engage in learning and growth through a collaborative environment. It is an atmosphere that fosters thoughts and ideas in effective leadership, encourages a support system among colleagues, and promotes the importance of self-care.

Why Is It important?
This professional development model of facilitated discussion groups allows the leadership team to analyze content and share their thoughts while connecting with their peers. Impact Players, by Liz Wiseman, was selected as the reading material for this school year. Liz Wiseman is a researcher and executive advisor who teaches leadership skills to organizational leaders. In this book, Wiseman breaks down five practices of “impact players” and the mindset that leads to high-value contributions. The book contains powerful insights and actionable recommendations to create a culture that fosters individual growth and enables organizations to reach a new level of success. 

How To Participate In A “Thought Partners” Discussion:
The Thought Partners group, comprised of over 40 leadership team members, meets once a month via Zoom to discuss a chapter of the book. Group activities and videos are incorporated into the discussion to support the main ideas of each session. They represent relatable context to the attributes of an impact player and connect examples of the results when applying the practices outlined in the book. Monica Padman, nanny for Dax Shepard and Kristen Bell, became co-host for the podcast “Armchair Expert,” and opened this window of opportunity by “playing passionately where she was most needed.” This is a key example of one of the five practices Wiseman outlines in her book. To be useful, do the job that’s needed. Monica addressed the need of her employer, focused on where she could be most useful and found a bigger opportunity.


Self Reflection: How Can I Be An Impact Player?
Self-reflection is a powerful tool. The Thought Partners group reviewed the chart below and evaluated the differences between being a contributor versus an impact player. They discussed viewing challenges through an opportunity lens or a threat lens, as methods of problem-solving. Evaluating perspectives in challenging circumstances and understanding the mindset of an impact player opens opportunities that create a path toward growth and learning.

The leadership team reads excerpts and then time is allotted to discuss their interpretation and main takeaways. Some of the discussions are whole group oriented, while others take place in breakout rooms. The small group setting allows individuals to express their thoughts in a more personal manner and build deeper connections with other members of the team.