Five for Friday January ​16-20

Today’s Five for Friday will be a bit different. Leading off we will talk about the best pot to use for cooking oatmeal. I bet you didn’t see that coming! After the brief cooking lesson, we’ll invest the rest of our time exploring a question I received from a reader last week. This week’s big idea: Strategies for coaching up
Five for Friday Show Notes

Teaser: Today’s Five for Friday will be a bit different. Leading off we will talk about the best pot to use for cooking oatmeal. I bet you didn’t see that coming! After the brief cooking lesson, we’ll invest the rest of our time exploring a question I received from a reader last week.

This week’s big idea: Strategies for coaching up

Hello colleagues and welcome to The Assistant Principal Podcast, I’m your host Dr. Frederick Buskey.

 I’ve been growing leaders and future leaders for over 30 years. Through my own experiences, and through working with hundreds of other leaders, I’ve learned that school leadership is a journey that occurs in three phases:

Urgent leaders spend their time completing tasks, but…

Intentional leaders invest their time building systems. However…

Strategic leaders create time by growing people.

In 2018 I founded Strategic Leadership Consulting to help make this journey more enjoyable for leaders like you. Through my daily email, monthly micro-journal, online community, my upcoming book, and, of course, this podcast, I keep you company on this journey and provide you with actionable ideas and tools to live and lead better today and tomorrow.

Today’s episode of Five for Friday recaps the strategic leadership emails for the week of January 16-20, 2023. 

Monday: Don’t waste time fixating on decisions that don’t matter (a story of oatmeal)
Two things:
  1. We sometimes try and force people to grow in the direction we want them to grow, instead of the direction they want to grow. In the big picture, the direction of the growth is irrelevant. The fact that they are growing is enough. So let them decide what size the pot needs to be, or to lead their own growth.
  2. I am guilty of fixating on decisions over things that, in the big picture, don’t matter. It is a waste of time and attention, our two most precious resources.

Tuesday-Friday: Question of the week
I occasionally receive powerful questions from listeners and one of my intentions in 2023 is to do more with these questions by sharing more widely. Here is my first attempt.

“I would love to know your thoughts about how you try to lead an organization strategically when your superiors are not leading with the same mindset.  I'm currently struggling to get my manager to see the need to train and listen to feedback from our employees instead of just harping on them for ‘not doing their job.’”

Ryan Donlan, an upcoming podcast guest, talks about the idea of leading “up, down, and around.”

Leadership is not a hierarchical activity; leadership is a human activity! 

Way back in episode 20, Dr. Gabby Grant discussed restorative practices and when I asked her about how to begin implementing those practices she said “Change starts from within.” Before we can change others, we need to change ourselves. In the process of changing ourselves, we may create the space for others, including those above, to also engage in changing themselves.

You can’t make your leaders change. You can provide them opportunities to reflect and help them grow in ways they determine, but only if they make that choice themselves. Although I didn’t point this out in the daily emails, I realize now that the only way to get leaders to grow is to invite them into that space and the easiest way to do that is to bring them along on our own journey – if they are willing to walk with us.

Three strategies for coaching up:
  1. Providing third-party examples of good leadership can facilitate leadership growth within an organization.
    1. Podcasts
    2. Articles
    3. Books (caution)
    4. My daily emails!
  2. Working on a leadership skill and then processing our growth, or lack thereof, with other leaders provides learning opportunities for everyone involved.
  3. Set a leadership growth goal, then share it (and ask for help).
  4. Invest some time in your own growth by creating space to reflect with other leaders.

Takeaway: You can’t force someone to grow. You can only provide space and an invitation and the best way to do that is to start by changing yourself. Invest in your own growth, make it public, ask for help, and invite others to come along with you.

That is this week’s Five for Friday rendition of The Assistant Principal Podcast. Before we go, I encourage you to make an intentional choice to take something you’ve heard today and to reflect more deeply or to act on it. 

If you already have a clear idea of what to do, that’s wonderful. If not, let me offer three possibilities:
  1. Begin sitting in with your leader at the end of the week and focus on learning about them and from them. Use this time to change yourself, and you will open the door for your leader to do the same.
  2. Do you know someone else who withes they could “coach up”? Forward the show link to a colleague and say “you have got to listen to this, I want us to talk about it” And yes, that is one of the strategies we discussed today and if you listen closely it is included as part of our new outro in every episode!
  3. Identify the one big takeaway or question from this episode and share it with me. You can share a written, audio, or video message with me by emailing me at

Thank you for including me on your leadership journey. Remember that you can walk more with me by subscribing to my daily leadership email and Quadrant2, my monthly micro-journal. And if that isn’t enough, we can walk further together in APEx, my virtual paid community for assistant principals. APEx helps you network with other APs and participate group coaching with me! You can learn more about APEx and my other offerings at my website,

I look forward to seeing you again next Tuesday when we explore intrinsic motivation with Mike Anderson, author of Tackling the Motivation Crisis. This was a great interview and it will give you lots to think about and maybe help you put a critical eye on some common school practices.

I’m Frederick Buskey and thank you again for joining me on this episode of the Assistant Principal Podcast. Remember to subscribe so you don’t miss a single episode. Cheers!

Frederick’s Links:

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