Adolph Brown, founder and president of The Business & Education Leadership Authority, is adept at facilitating aha moments—and perhaps will be creating some as a thought leader at the upcoming National Principals Conference. In this month’s questionnaire, we asked him about what makes a great principal, how principals can enhance creativity, and his favorite subject in high school.
What makes a great principal?
A great principal must be able to multitask—to juggle myriad issues, activities, and concerns. She or he must always be “on” and aware. She or he must be able see the big picture as well as the little picture. She or he must listen. She or he must always use as [a] filter for decisions: “Is this right for kids? Is this right by staff?” However, I must add that the best characteristic a principal has that contributes to the greatness of their faculty, students, and parents is relationship building.
How can principals enhance creativity in their schools?
As a principal, you have to model and foster those traits you hope to encourage. So, you have to build a climate that values creativity and allows for missteps along the way. In building that climate, principals need to be seen supporting activities that promote creativity.
What can schools learn from entrepreneurial companies?
I believe the biggest thing we in education can learn is that there is a bottom line, but there are different ways to meet that bottom line. Curriculum and specific results are mandated, and that is fine, but how teachers get there may differ, and that is fine also. As long as techniques are successful, ethical, and reasonable, teachers should be encouraged to use their own methods. Like corporate America, we can also balance rules with relationships, give up on “perfect,” understand our customers—our students.
What is an example of a school program that you think is particularly innovative?
The program that I think is most innovative isn’t innovative at all, nor is it a “program.” It is building strong relationships and connections with students. If that were to happen for all students, that would be the most innovative philosophy. As educators, we commonly see “programs” come and go; a philosophy pertains to our way of thinking and remains with us as we grow.
What was your favorite subject in high school?
My favorite subject was math, which strongly led to my research-scientist background. I found math to align with the way I thought about things. I have always had a keen awareness of the quantitative information in the world around me.
What are the best books you’ve read recently and why?
The best books I have read recently are Quiet Power: The Secret Strengths of Introverts by Susan Cain and Mindset: The New Psychology of Success by colleague Carol Dweck. These books served as confirmation for the way I live and practice. I often think of my best reads as books I commonly reread. Brain Rules by John Medina is my current favorite.