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Preparing for Leadership Transitions in the Day School Field and Everyday Life

Posted by: Deborah Fishman

May 20, 2013

How much thought have you given to your career path and what you need to do now and on an ongoing basis to prepare for it?
Rabbi Mitch Malkus, in the midst of his transition from being Head of School of Pressman Academy of Temple Beth Am, a Solomon Schechter (Conservative) day school in Los Angeles, to assuming the headship of Charles E. Smith, a RAVSAK (community) school in Rockville, MD, shares some of the issues he is grappling with. Which of them resonate for you?
To what extent is leadership collaborative or built upon the persona of the top employee?
While this is an interesting question in and of itself, it becomes even more pertinent at a time of leadership transition. Such transitions – particularly those that are successful – occur not in a vacuum, but in partnership with the continuing professional and lay leaders who shape the institution’s organic ecosystem. What should leaders do to enable collaborative leadership to ease transitions? Mitch speaks about charging his professional and lay leaders to take on new and bigger roles with the knowledge that they will play an important part in educating the new leader. In what other ways is collaborative leadership important in times of transition, and what more can current leaders do to foster collaborative leadership and continuity?
Do you need a personal strategic plan for your career?
While many of us have put strategic plans in place to shape the future course of our organizations or projects, we may not always apply such strategic thinking to our own personal trajectories. Meanwhile, as passionate Jewish professionals, we can become invested in a particular project or institution to the extent that it becomes a part of our very identity. How can we work to find some balance between being present and focusing on where we are in our careers while still remaining able to explore new opportunities when they present themselves? How do we balance between having an envisioned career path and responding to the unpredictable?
What is our role as individuals in shaping and transmitting the culture of institutions?
A career transition gives us the opportunity to experience the culture of two different institutions. Even if not consciously, institutional cultures can impact our own values, work habits, and instincts – and vice versa. Do we have a role to play when we transition in bringing learning from one location to bear on the next? What are the challenges and opportunities in making such a shift?
Can disequilibrium actually be good for an institution?
While it often seems that long-term stability is the safest path forward – and few would advocate for prolonged and frequent instability – Mitch reflects on how some changes can open opportunities for a person and/or an institution to grow and to learn.
Watch Mitch’s video and share your thoughts about leadership transitions in the Jewish world and how we can prepare for them, both individually and communally.Preparing for Leadership Transitions in the Day School Field and Everyday Life
How much thought have you given to your career path and what you need to do now and on an ongoing basis to prepare for it?
Rabbi Mitch Malkus, in the midst of his transition from being Head of School of Pressman Academy of Temple Beth Am, a Solomon Schechter (Conservative) day school in Los Angeles, to assuming the headship of Charles E. Smith, a RAVSAK (community) school in Rockville, MD, shares some of the issues he is grappling with. Which of them resonate for you?
To what extent is leadership collaborative or built upon the persona of the top employee? While this is an interesting question in and of itself, it becomes even more pertinent at a time of leadership transition. Such transitions – particularly those that are successful – occur not in a vacuum, but in partnership with the continuing professional and lay leaders who shape the institution’s organic ecosystem. What should leaders do to enable collaborative leadership to ease transitions? Mitch speaks about charging his professional and lay leaders to take on new and bigger roles with the knowledge that they will play an important part in educating the new leader. In what other ways is collaborative leadership important in times of transition, and what more can current leaders do to foster collaborative leadership and continuity?
Do you need a personal strategic plan for your career? While many of us have put strategic plans in place to shape the future course of our organizations or projects, we may not always apply such strategic thinking to our own personal trajectories. Meanwhile, as passionate Jewish professionals, we can become invested in a particular project or institution to the extent that it becomes a part of our very identity. How can we work to find some balance between being present and focusing on where we are in our careers while still remaining able to explore new opportunities when they present themselves? How do we balance between having an envisioned career path and responding to the unpredictable?
What is our role as individuals in shaping and transmitting the culture of institutions? A career transition gives us the opportunity to experience the culture of two different institutions. Even if not consciously, institutional cultures can impact our own values, work habits, and instincts – and vice versa. Do we have a role to play when we transition in bringing learning from one location to bear on the next? What are the challenges and opportunities in making such a shift?
Can disequilibrium actually be good for an institution? While it often seems that long-term stability is the safest path forward – and few would advocate for prolonged and frequent instability – Mitch reflects on how some changes can open opportunities for a person and/or an institution to grow and to learn.
Watch Mitch’s video [link] and share your thoughts about leadership transitions in the Jewish world and how we can prepare for them, both individually and communally.

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