Dan Rockwell calls himself a leadership freak.
I don’t know what a “leadership freak” is, but I think we can confidently say it is among the top personality descriptions that someone who writes and manages a blog called “Leadership Freak” should possess.
On Dec. 3 of last year, Rockwell posted on his blog a piece titled “The Complete List of Extraordinary Leadership Qualities — Plus One.”
Highlights from this list include:
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▪ No. 1: Face reality
▪ No. 6: Take responsibility
▪ No. 10: Adapt
▪ No. 13: Instill confidence in others
▪ Nos. 14, 15, 16: Listen, trust, connect
Rockwell’s “Plus One” is this: “All the skills in the world won’t compensate for a stingy heart. Ridiculous generosity makes you remarkable. The difference between successful and extraordinary is generosity.”
And he defines this “generosity” in leadership as requiring humility, courage, compassion and connection.
It’s a useful list. A solid list. Any leader or potential leader could benefit from reading this list and assessing his or her own performance accordingly.
Beaufort County School Superintendent Jeff Moss shared this list on Twitter this past winter.
It was a retweet from Terry Grier, who was then superintendent of the Houston Independent School District in Texas.
It was a good share. A good endorsement.
I also enjoyed reading the “10 Habits of Ultra-Likable Leaders” post from Inc. Magazine that Moss retweeted from Grier nearly a month before the Rockwell link.
“Try these 10 strategies and watch your likeability soar” the article gushes at the end.
Moss has just 183 followers on Twitter and is only an occasional tweeter. His tweets are school-, teacher- and student-centric and enthusiastically so. His account seems like that of any other seasoned professional who thought, “This is interesting. I don’t actually get it, but I’ll give it a try.”
Twitter is clearly not Moss’ primary means of communication, so I hesitate to draw too much meaning from the two vocational tweets he shared in November and December, but I do find them interesting and particularly relevant.
Is Moss an extraordinary leader?
Is Moss likable?
Not according to that list.
And no, he’s not.
Herein lies his problem.
For nearly six months, residents of Beaufort County have had to hear about the school district — about the superintendent, about the nepotism policy, about the school board.
The superintendent and board have been labeled incompetent.
Some residents have called for Moss’ resignation.
He has had many opportunities to demonstrate “extraordinary leadership” skills since September, when it first became clear that he unilaterally changed a nepotism rule that otherwise would not have allowed his wife to be hired in a $90,000 a year position in the school district.
Instead he has dug in his heels, dismissed all criticism, gotten defensive and made it clear that he’s going to do what he wants, the public be damned.
The only apology Moss has offered has been to the school board and only specifically for the grief they have received as a result of his actions.
In the meantime, the angry public has gotten more so as Moss continues to demonstrate that he finds the opinion they formed of him in the nepotism fall-out to be a distraction and of little consequence to what he’s trying to achieve as superintendent.
Every chance he has had to right the ship, he has instead allowed it to float farther out to sea on its sad old side because he is miscalculating the problem and not listening to those aboard.
His letter lists how the district ranks in the state, and it offers an account of programs and achievements, such Palmetto awards and the Dick and Tunky Riley Award.
Again, he misses the point.
If he finds the public’s simmering opinion of him to be a distraction from the positive, it is because it is and because he let it be.
Is Moss a good superintendent? He might just be. Only time will tell — only when we can look back on his years here and say, “He did these very valuable things for us.”
In the meantime, he has allowed his ego to walk into the room first and leave last after he’s clouded it with his arrogance.
Not once has he shown that he has considered his position from the public’s eyes. Not once has he very simply said, “I hear you and I understand. I have big things planned. We’re going to need to work together, and I will regain your trust.”
Think of the time this would have saved.
Think of the distractions this would have prevented.
Think of the open letters he would not have had to write.