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11 Questions with... BILL BOLDE
January, 2011 - Issue #75
Saugus High School Principal and Author of "Lead the Way" Answers
"11 Questions" from Inside SCV Magazine


1. In a sentence, what is leadership?

Leadership is a journey where a person is able to cast an inspiring vision for the future, motivate others to engage with that dream, develop a team so that it's more effective at achieving the objective, and direct the delivery of the overall purpose with character and courage.

2. Are there certain attributes necessary to becoming a good leader?
Yes, and that's really the foundation for writing Lead the Way. The book serves as a basic checklist for the essential elements of leadership that need to be developed. I broke them down into four categories using a backpacking analogy: know where you're going, know what to pack, know how to manage the trail, and know why you're there.

3. Who - living or dead - best epitomizes good leadership?
In Lead the Way, I talk about many outstanding leaders who have had an affect on me personally. The man who made the greatest impact on my life, however, is John Wooden. Chapter Eight is entitled "Investing in Others." Great leaders know how to make deposits in the lives of the people around them. John Wooden did that for me and for countless others who were blessed to know him.

4. As a leader, what do you struggle with?
One of the most important things to remember in any leadership role is that you're going to make mistakes; it's inevitable. I've made many and I chronicled quite a few in Chapter Six of Lead the Way. Sometimes you say the wrong thing, you make a bad decision or you create a game plan that blows up in your face. What's important is not to beat yourself up over them. Instead, learn as much as you can from them. The best leaders reflect upon the moment, dissect it well, ask questions and make adjustments.

5. Is there a danger in teaching everyone to be leaders? Don't we need followers, too?
In Chapter Sixteen of Lead the Way, I mention that one thing I've noticed over the years while studying leadership and watching exceptional leaders is that more often than not, the best leaders are also the best followers. I don't believe you can classify people as leaders and followers. I contend that all people at some time and in some forum are asked to lead.

6. You are a husband, father, administrator, author... How do you find balance?
To find balance in your life, you have to define your priorities and be in tune with your core values. Some people reach the top of the ladder of success only to find it leaning against the wrong wall. In my life, my inner core will always be serving God first. My secondary commitments all focus on my wife and my family. Everything else - career, community involvements, and the "stuff" of life, including authoring a book - are tertiary.

7. What prompted you to write this book?
I believe that God has put me in some unique situations throughout my life and through them I have learned a lot about what leadership is and what it is not. The book is written as a message to others - especially to my children and grandchildren - that the life journey we are on is one that refines us each day to better serve our families, our communities, the people we are in contact with each day, and above all, the leader of all leaders, our God.

"Some people reach
the top of the
ladder of success only to find it
leaning against the
WRONG WALL."

8. How does your view on leadership form your perspective on education?
One of the by-products of what I do each day happens to be helping make sure the details of school management and instructional leadership are taken care of, but that has never been my number-one priority. The ultimate function of my being where I am on my campus and in my community has been to promote a better future for kids.

9. What gets you out of bed in the morning?
For more than a quarter of a century I have risen each morning and have driven to the same school with the same thought: Try to make a difference in the life of someone else.

10. So, where can we get the book?
The book is available on Amazon and through my website, leadthewaybook.com. We have completed the audio version and will soon have the book available as a downloadable MP3.

11: You've been in high school administration for 15 years and a principal for eight years. What can we do - as a community, as parents - to help our children become good leaders?
This is a huge question! Our society today is in desperate need of courageous leaders. We don't do a very good job in raising kids to understand the components of leadership - making good choices, honoring others, building relationships based on trust, developing an extraordinary work ethic, and setting a personal standard of excellence. If our world is looking to grow quality leaders, in our schools, our companies, and in our communities and if we are trying to raise our kids with significant purpose, I contend that we are looking in the wrong places. Our culture continues to cultivate leaders by what media, television, and the world of sports and entertainment says leaders should look like. Time and time again, we see how the heroes of these walks of life have failed to meet the litmus test of leadership.

Everything you may read about leadership in my book and in others will never deliver what you're ultimately looking for if you don't understand that true leadership starts in the home. Let's face it; we all want to find success in our lives. We all want to be good at what we do. We all want others to recognize our abilities and talents. But, do we place the same value on how we're doing in our homes, valuing our spouses, building up our children, cultivating a nurturing environment, and defining our roles as fathers and mothers? We can choose to invest greatly in our own diversions or we can chose to prioritize our spouse and kids by starting each day with them on our minds and in our prayers.
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