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Setting Leadership Priorities

Setting Leadership Priorities
What’s Necessary, What’s Nice, and What’s Got to Go

Other Titles in:
Leadership | Organizational Tools

October 2005 | 128 pages | Corwin
Learn to focus on essentials, and strengthen your priority, time, and to-do management skills to create balance, enjoyment and satisfaction in your professional life.

Do you find yourself so busy digging a ditch with a spoon that you don't have time to go back to the tool shed and fetch a shovel? Are your in-box, and daily schedule at maximum capacity? Does it seem impossible to include those extras that would make your job more enjoyable and satisfying? Conquering overload is the constant challenge of 21st century school administrators. This book breathes fresh air into the often murky world of priority management.

Setting Leadership Priorities teaches busy professionals how to distinguish between information, activities, and situations that must be retained, those that might be refined, and many that should be relinquished. Drawing more than twenty years of experience as a teacher and administrator, Lovely understands that reducing frustration and overload helps administrators by:

o increasing retention rates and improving success on the job

o allowing them to redistribute leadership by delegating

o creating balance in their daily lives and in their long-term professional journey

When the emergencies outnumber the victories and you can't see the door over your towering in-box, it's time to reshuffle your priorities and let clarity emerge.

About the Author
1. The Information Invasion
Global Communication: Friend or Foe?

Overshooting the Mark

California’s Billion-Dollar Experiment

Learning to Set Limits

Conclusion: Turn Off the Spigot

2. Teaching Leaders to Let Go
Beef Up Communication

“Selective Abandonment” at Work

Make Room for the Essentials

It Takes Courage to Say No

Conclusion: Hope Is on the Way

3. Business As Unusual
Getting Into Gear

Building Organizational Fitness

Deposit Time in the Bank

The Battle of Blind Accumulation

Stop the Madness

Conclusion: Don’t Catch the Ball Every Time It’s Thrown

4. The Power of One, the Impact of Many
Loading the Bus With the Right People

P(3) = Persistence x Passion x Practice

One Principal, Many Leaders

Delegation Without Guilt

Conclusion: Bring Home the Yellow Jersey

5. Getting a Grip on Data
Excavating Quality Data

Take the Plunge

Turning Data Into Knowledge

Sow the Seeds of Success

Conclusion: It’s Elementary

6. Is the Sky Really Falling? Distinguishing a Bona Fide Crisis From Make-Believe
The Story of Urgent Ernie

No Need to ‘FUD’ About It

Fighting the Adrenaline Rush

School Leadership Is Not an Emergency

The Throes of CoDependency

Conclusion: Blow Out the Candles and Move On

Epilogue: Let the Odyssey Begin
Balance Inside Disequilibrium

Courting Successors

Pass the Mate

If at First You Don’t Succeed, TRI-TRI Again

Just Do It

Resource A. Sample District Complaint Policy
Resource B. Testing Your Organizational DNA
Resource C. Who’s Riding Our Bus? Personal Inventory & Team Activity
Resource D. Leadership Lessons in 30 Minutes or Less
Getting Results Through Time Efficient Meetings

The Classroom Walk ‘Bout

Passing Out Psychological Paychecks: 50 Ways to Recognize Employee Performance and Boost Morale


"Lovely gets right to the heart of what a principal needs to do--and not do--to avoid being overwhelmed by our all-consuming profession. This lively book encourages--no insists--that school leaders make room for the essentials in their professional lives, delegate without guilt, and have the courage to say no. Sprinkled throughout are personal checklists, scripts, and examples of disasters and great successes in the education world. There's something valuable in Setting Leadership Priorities for every principal."

Vincent L. Ferrandino
Executive Director, NAESP

"Suzette Lovely has synthesized a number of best practices and offers an easy-to-read resource--especially for central office leaders."

Pam Robbins
Author, The Principal's Companion

"A definite must-read for principals who are interested in improving their own work and enjoying it more."

David McVicker, Principal
Emerald Heights Elementary School, Silverdale, WA

"Lovely has written a valuable and highly practical guide chock full of helpful hints and common sense wisdom. Written in a breezy and easy-to-read style, this book skillfully separates the essential from the tangential in a sea of competing priorities that face principals every day. The book will benefit the struggling new principal as well as the veteran school leader. I wish I'd had this book when I was a principal."

Terrence Quinn, Associate Professor
Queens College

"Sustainable leadership in today's schools goes beyond short-term gains on standardized tests. School leaders need to produce lasting and meaningful improvements in student learning. This book provides valuable and insightful tools that the talented and dedicated leaders of our schools want and deserve."

Dr. Austin G. Buffum, Senior Deputy Superintendent
Capistrano Unified School District, San Juan Capistrano, CA

"The perspectives and resources in this book will help principals to make a genuine difference for their students, and to maintain balance in their lives. Suzette Lovely shows how the principalship can be re-shaped into a position that is both powerful and possible."

Gary Bloom, Associate Director
New Teacher Center, University of California, Santa Cruz

"Suzette Lovely challenges traditional school reform efforts and leadership nostrums with a fresh and compelling alternative. From the practical elements of meetings and delegation to the personal priorities of health and family responsibilities, the author provides a comprehensive approach to leadership priorities that will help struggling leaders survive and will help successful leaders achieve greater heights."

Douglas B. Reeves, Ph.D., CEO
Center for Performance Assessment

"Most school administrators are familiar with such adages of leadership as 'Effective leaders do first things first' or 'Work smarter not harder.' But knowing how to recite adages is much different from knowing how to apply them. This book offers specific, practical, and valuable tips that can help harried peripatetic school administrators improve their effectiveness."

Dr. Rick Dufour, Educational Author and Consultant
Moneta, VA

"A fascinating and practical set of ideas and strategies, useful to effective leaders."

"A highly practical approach to coping with the daily realities of leading schools."

Kent Peterson, Professor
University of Wisconsin-Madison

"Anyone who feels overwhelmed at work will find that this book is a wake-up call; Lovely offers a plentitude of strategies to prevent burnout on all levels: intellectually, emotionally, and physically."

NACADA Journal, Fall 2006

Sample Materials & Chapters


Chapter 1

Suzette Lovely

Suzette Lovely is the deputy superintendent of personnel services for the Capistrano Unified School District in Orange County, CA. She has spent 24 years in public education as a teacher, assistant principal, elementary principal, and director of elementary operations. Lovely also serves as an adjunct faculty member at Chapman University, teaching courses in educational administration.Author of two previous books: Setting Leadership Priorities: What’s Necessary, What’s Nice and What’s Got to Go (Corwin Press, 2006) and Staffing the Principalship: Finding, Coaching and Mentoring School Leaders (ASCD, 2004), Lovely is also a staff writer for... More About Author