Byron's Babbles

Love Thy Neighbor!

Posted in Uncategorized by Dr. Byron L. Ernest on April 19, 2015
Choose Your Friends By Their Character & Your Socks By Their Color

Choose Your Friends By Their Character & Your Socks By Their Color

I want to begin this post by posing an essential question for you to reflect on: How can you make yourself useful and effective in helping to solve a social problem of our society?

In this week’s study of Peter Drucker in Maciariello’s (2014) A Year with Peter Drucker: 52 Weeks of Coaching for Leadership Effectiveness, I learned that Drucker believed that social issues and problems were of greater danger to the United States than economic issues. During the 1992 presidential campaign, former President Bill Clinton’s strategist, James Carville, coined the slogan: “Its the economy, stupid!” Obviously, the public seemed to believe this because Clinton won the election. Drucker disagreed, however, and thought our growing social problems were more significant than our economic problems (Maciariello, 2014). Drucker pointed to the fact that none of the U.S. government’s programs of the last 40 years really produced any significant results. We can however point to programs put in place by religious organizations, churches, and other independent non-profit agencies that have had impressive results and done a great deal of good for Americans, as well as individuals in other countries. In my opinion one of the best legacies that President George W. Bush will be remembered for were his faith-based initiatives to have private organizations taking on the overwhelming societal needs. year-with-peter-drucker

Social needs, according to Drucker, grow in two areas. First, in charity: helping the poor, disabled, helpless, and victims. Secondly, and probably a faster growing need is in respect to the services that aim at changing the community and at changing people (Maciariello, 2014). Every developed country needs an autonomous, self governing social sector of community organizations to provide the requisite community services, but above all to restore the bonds of community and a sense of active citizenship. Historically, community just happened by fate. We must now make a commitment to the development of the community. In 1939, Winston Churchill even commented prior to becoming Prime Minister of England in 1940 about Drucker’s forward thinking on the needs of society. Churchill said, “…he [Drucker] not only has a mind of his own, but has the gift of starting other minds along the stimulating line of thought.” Drucker knew that taking care of the social needs of our country was going to be important.

Right now there is a great deal of animus in America dealing with race, religion, gender, sexual orientation, socioeconomic differences, education, and even partisan politics. Some of these differences are constrained by social norms, but certainly not to the extent necessary. In education, as school curriculum continues to be aligned with standards and goals, pressure will grow for these goals to be aligned with the students’ strengths and societal needs. We must teach our students how to make changes in society peacefully and democratically. Thinking, reasoning, problem-solving, entrepreneurship, and creativity and the arts must align with the revolutionary changes in all cultures around the world. We live in a country and world of multiple cultures, made even smaller by instant communication and rapid transportation. If we manage our diversity well, it will enrich us. If we don’t, it will divide us. Meeting that challenge is up to each and all of us.

We must listen to the students we serve and give them a voice. Getting them engaged. Students will expect their voices to be her in decisions. As stated earlier, thinking, reasoning, problem solving, creativity, and communication skills coupled with ethical NationalHonorSocietybehavior, will be essential if we hope to have a future. We must take extra care to provide our young people with experiences that enable them to develop core values of ethical behavior and civic duty. I have witnessed and been involved with non-governmental organizations that do this quite well. One is the National Honor Society. My son is a member right now and certainly besides the promotion of high academic performance and achievement, he is also getting a taste of the importance of community service and why it is important to be involved in finding solutions for the needs of the community. I am also proud to have been a part of bringing the National Honor Society to Hoosier Academies. As a school leader, I understand the importance of these civic-minded experiences to our students. Drucker thcalled this developing “creaturehood” for the ordinary individual. Another incredible organization that gives students real world, in context, leadership experience in a societal setting is the Kiwanis Key Club. From their many enrichment and civic projects, Key Club members dedicate their energy to serving their communities in order to ensure the world will be a better place for future generations.

As adults and leaders we also have a responsibility to society and modeling our social service to our young people. We all have time, talents, treasures, and connections we can bring to the table in order to do our civic duty for society. I realize time is a precious commodity, but we must make KentuckyColonel_emblemtime to do those things in our communities, state and nation that are necessary to make the radical changes necessary to not be left behind. I have made a conscience effort to model this or “walk the talk,” so to speak. I have been involved at the local, state, and national levels for civic service whether in service organizations or politically. In 2010 I had the honor of being commissioned as a Kentucky Colonel because of my contributions in the realm of education in Kentucky. The commission of Kentucky colonel is the highest title of honor bestowed by the Commonwealth of Kentucky. Commissions for Kentucky Colonels are given by the Governor and the Secretary of State to individuals in recognition of noteworthy accomplishments and outstanding service to a community, state or the nation. Because I really believe in the mission of the Honorable Order of Kentucky Colonels I have made a real commitment to provide time, talent, treasures, and connections. In fact, on May 16, 2015 I am going to be on an Honor Flight, sponsored by the Honorable Order of Kentucky Colonels, serving as a Guardian while taking Veterans from Indiana and Kentucky to honor them. We will be flying out of Louisville, Kentucky to Washington, D.C. for them to be honored as Veterans and tour the Monuments of our foreign wars. 211Check out this inspirational video promotion of our Honor Flight. Click here to watch the video. I am very excited to have been selected to serve as a Guardian for this very important service to our Veterans. This is just one of the social services that the Honorable Order of Kentucky Colonels provides through our Good Works Program. If you are so moved and want to donate feel free to click here.

Our second president, John Adams, stated: “We have no government armed with power capable of contending with human passions unbridled by morality and religion. Avarice, ambition, revenge, or gallantry, would break the strongest cords of our Constitution as a whale goes through a net. Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.” I am a believer in the rights given to us of freedom of religion and the freedom of speech (in other words the right to hit “publish” when I complete this blog post). I also completely believe in our moral responsibility to give in service to the civic and social needs of our communities, state, and nation. The title of this post is “Love Thy Neighbor!” The inspiration comes from the the Bible in the book of Mark. It first comes up in the 31st verse, but then the most important lesson is given in the 41st through 44th verses: “Sitting across from the offering box, he [Jesus] was observing how the crowd tossed money in for the collection. Many of the rich were making large contributions. One poor widow came up and put in two small coins – a measly two cents. Jesus called his disciples over and said, ‘The truth is that this poor widow gave more to the collection than all the others put together. All the other gave what they’ll never miss; she gave extravagantly what she couldn’t afford – she gave her all’ (The Message Bible).” Are you giving your all to make the world we live a better place now and for future generations?

I hope you have reflected on the essential question I started with: How can you make yourself useful and effective in helping to solve a social problem of our society? Now, I leave you with this question for a post-reflection: How can you leverage your social and religious involvements to increase your involvement in civic life?


Maciariello, J. A. (2014). A year with Peter Drucker: 52 weeks of coaching for leadership effectiveness. New York, NY: HarperCollins Publishers.

Educating Outside The Walls

Posted in Education, Education Reform, Educational Leadership, Leadership, science education by Dr. Byron L. Ernest on April 17, 2015

  I spent Monday and Tuesday of this week at the Indiana State House with a group of our teachers. Our mission was to demonstrate to our state legislators how virtual education really works. We set up in the House Committee rooms and had our teachers facilitate learning for our students from there. Many legislators came down and spent time with our teachers and we really appreciated the opportunity to share. At stake, right now, is a bill (HB 1001) that came out of the house calling for 100% funding for all schools. When the bill went to the Senate the amount was reduced back to the present level of funding of 90% for us, as a virtual charter school. I absolutely believe that our school, Hoosier Academies, should be funded at 100%. I believe all schools serving Indiana’s students should be funded equally at the 100% level.

Hoosier Academies Teachers Teaching In Room 156A Of The State House

  Representative Dave Ober, from Albion, said it best this week in a tweet: “The education philosophy in Indiana is that money follows the child. We need to make that commitment clear.” I have blogged about leading with certainty and clarity before (click here to read), and I consider this leading with both certainty and clarity. I had the opportunity to visit with Representative Ober this week and he certainly understands what is at stake. He is displaying his commitment to ALL Indiana students. In my personal growth time this morning I was reading David McCullough’s Truman. McCullough stated that former President Harry S. Truman hated the words “progressive,” “liberal,” and “reform.” Truman wanted everything to be “Forward Moving.” To have our schools and education to be “forward moving” there needs to be 100% funding for all schools, regardless of type.   

One of the issues about funding right now relates to virtual schools. Let’s dive into the virtual thing. Really, virtual education is very “forward moving,” as Truman would have said. I hope we can all agree that all students can learn and that all students learn differently. If that is the case, then why would we think that all students learn best in a building with walls and a roof? We need to think “outside the walls.” Having just spent time with my Smithsonian Institution friends in Washington D.C. this past week, I can tell you they embrace the fact that not all students will be visiting, or even have the means to be able to visit within the walls of their museums. In fact, the Smithsonian Institution wants you to take advantage of visiting virtually. Truly, the Smithsonian Institution is equal access to everyone. EVERYONE!

I’ll give you an example: The Wright Flyer, on display in the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum, was scanned using a 3D laser, which produces a highly detailed and accurate image of the object. The 3D Wright Flyer exhibit is part of the Smithsonian Institution X 3D Collection, which provides a very detailed look at objects. The 3D Explorer allows visitors to rotate the objects on the screen and includes guided tours. The X 3D Collection provides access to many of the Smithsonian Institution’s 137 million objects of which only one percent is on display at any one time in the 19 museums, nine research centers, and the Smithsonian National Zoo. This is very “forward moving” and is in line with the Smithsonian Institution’s core mission – “The increase and diffusion of knowledge.”  The Smithsonian Institution is certainly thinking “outside the walls” to provide extensive public outreach and educational programs. 

Image Of The Wright Flyer From The X 3D Collection

Just like the Smithsonian Institution, we in the virtual education world, are serving as pioneers and trailblazers in online and blended education. We continue to learn how best to navigate innovative ways to deliver content and facilitate engaging lessons for students. Our “forward moving” and “outside the walls” approach includes a data-driven academic plan, increased professional development for our teachers, individualized learning plans for all students, strengthened family and stakeholder engagement, and a targeted credit recovery program. 

A key to the success of any organization is understanding what makes it distinct. At Hoosier Academies we are distinct because we are carrying out, as called for in the state constitution,  education equally open to all and by all suitable means.  We know in our case what makes us unique is the fact that students served by Hoosier Academies are able to be fully online (statewide in all 92 counties) or have the option to go to our hybrid schools (face to face two days a week and online the other three) in Indianapolis. What also makes us distinct is that we have a 67% mobility rate. We must embrace the fact that in many cases we are a short term solution to many of our students. This mobility may be because of health issues, bullying, differentiated learning needs, or students who have special circumstances such as being an Olympic gymnast. For many students we are the only available choice in a state that embraces school choice. I believe we are beginning to make progress because we have begun to answer the question of what what makes us different and really owning it. This realization has only come about because of really asking and listening to the students and parents of the students we serve about what they believe we should be trying to accomplish for them.  We have a long way to go, but are making progress.

This discovery has come about from stories, for example, of the family whose daughter has been with us through 6th, 7th, and 8th grade, because of being bullied at her local school, but, is going to try going back to her local high school next year. Another family, who I visited with recently in Gary, has their children enrolled in Hoosier Academies because they are scared to have the students walk to school. We also have students with medical conditions that do not allow them to be enrolled in a traditional setting and who are flourishing in our modality. Another story comes from our starting a National Honor Society this year and how the parents of a student with Down’s Syndrome who was inducted stated that there was no way their daughter could have ever been as successful, academically or socially, in a traditional setting. These stories are anecdotal and qualitative proof that Hoosier Academies is an interim solution for many families. We are a place for students to go for whatever length of time the parent believes is necessary. Furthermore, more than one-half of parents of high school students and one-third of elementary students will choose this option to catch their child up academically. 

The internet has changed the way people accomplish so many things, including the education of their children. Thanks to technological advances, students aren’t limited to learning in a traditional classroom environment. Many parents are choosing virtual schooling as a viable educational choice that provides a range of benefits. Virtual schooling provides the same opportunities for children and teens, allowing them to use technology to learn and grow in the familiarity and comfort of their home environments. Online school programs may also provide students with more of the personal attention they need. Teachers are often better able to focus on each student’s unique needs and provide a more customized approach to learning. In a perfect world, no child would ever face bullying or other social struggles in school. In reality, however, many children deal regularly with bullies and troubling social interactions that make learning nearly impossible. Many students we serve also face classroom-learning challenges because of their own behavioral or emotional needs. Online learning modalities allow students to learn in a safe and secure environment that is free from the social and behavioral concerns typical of traditional classrooms.

Again, if we truly believe all students learn differently we need to embrace the fact that students will need individualized learning environments as well. Let us be “forward moving” in our continued improvement of all learning environments for tomorrow! 

Wright Brothers Fascination

Posted in Education, Educational Leadership, Inspirational, Leadership by Dr. Byron L. Ernest on April 14, 2015


You all know I am fascinated and obsessed with the Wright Brothers. They are members of my personal Mount Rushmore. This past week when I had the opportunity to travel to Washington D.C. with Hoosier Academies students and families I took a group to my favorite Smithsonian Institution exhibit – The Wright Brothers and 1903 Wright Flyer, in the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum. I am such a student of the Wright Brothers because of the audacious leadership they displayed. Imagine the audacity to think they could build a machine that would fly. Remember, people made fun of them. Also, the audacity to know what being able to fly would do to affect all generations to come. In other words, WHY being able to fly would be advantageous to the human race. Basically, everything in the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum is there as a result of the Wright Brother’s innovative leadership! 

Additionally, the Wright Brothers were controversial, which according to Sally Hogshead, makes them fascinatining. Some of this controversy was a simple rivalry between the Smithsonian Institution and the Wright Brothers, and their claims of who was the first to fly. The Smithsonian at the time was primarily a research facility rather than a museum and Dr. Langley, the leading competitor in the race for first flight, was America’s most respected scientist, and the keader of the Smithsonian Institution. In 1928, Orville Wright loaned the Flyer to the London Science Museum, where it stayed for 20 years. It was not until 1948 that the Smithsonian received the airplane. I for one am glad it is where it belongs and the Wright Brothers are serving as an example of American enginuity for all who come to the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum.

Malcolm Gladwell said it takes 10,000 hours of practice to become great at something. Imagine if the Wright brothers had “tried” flying for a couple of months and then gave up saying “we are just no good at flying.”  It sounds humorous, but many people do this when starting a new project. From something as simple as getting into shape to the more complicated endeavor of pioneering and inventing new products, achieving high levels of success in anything is less dependent on talent and more dependent on tenacity. Sometimes we forget that anything we are now good at, we were once not proficient. In other words, we must be bad at something before we can get good at it. The Wright brothers set out with a dream and worked vigorously to make the impossible a reality.  It wasn’t easy and took hard work with thousands of failures to get the success they were looking for.  After only four years, the vision they had cast was actualized by their own actions.   The more amazing part though is the business story that followed. It took them several more years to hammer out the safety issues with flight and then had a multimillion dollar earning year in 1910.  What is truly unbelievable is that after only another 5 years,  Wilber Wright was able to sell the company for not only $36,000,000, but also received another $600,000 for serving as the chief consulting engineer during the first year of the new company’s operation. We severely overestimate what we can accomplish in one year and strictly underestimate what we can do in 10. I am also always amazed to remember that neither of the Wright brothers had diplomas or collegiate courses, instead they were encouraged heavily by their parents with a “classics” education focus and read hundreds if not thousands of books from their family library.  Pontific knowledge, tenure, and certificates does not equate to being educated.

Remember, every big success requires first a dream, then a struggle, before the victory.  Think about this: “If I take away your struggle, I will also take away your victory.”

Responding With Mindfulness

Posted in Education, Educational Leadership, Inspirational, Leadership, science education by Dr. Byron L. Ernest on April 12, 2015


Being mindful in our responses ensures integrity in our interactions and solutions to opportunities (what I call challenges and problems). Absence of mindfulness raises the likelihood of emotional reactions and unproductive arguments instead of thoughtful and effective responses. We need to gain control through attentiveness and awareness, centering ourselves to lead our solutions and conversations fruitfully, honestly, and fully. It is easy to be pulled into reacting, and it takes more effort to respond. However, with mindfulness practices, I believe exchanges can be more productive and greater integrity can be maintained.

As we maintain our mindfulness through inner calmness and strength, we listen to what is being said more intently, and we watch the way in which it is being said. Also, we truly can begin to look at the challenge as an opportunity. We become more aware as we formulate our response. Our raised attentiveness enables us to respond more thoughtfully and, if needed, begin to direct the exchange in a direction of collaboration or more productive areas of discussion. Our mindful and responsive solution can truly become a new adventure and great journey.

Let me tell you the story of my morning. I am in Washington D.C. with a group of our Hoosier Academy families. They really wanted to go to the Smithsonian National Zoo. Well, as a former Smithsonian Teacher Ambassador and Smithsonian Diffusion Award Winner, I was ready to do anything Smithsonian! We arranged for our charter bus to take us there in the morning. Then we were going to have the bus take us at noon to the Smithsonian Castle and Enid A. Haupt Garden to meet up with some of my Smithsonian friends for a research experience. On the way to the zoo, our staff person coordinating the trip got an email telling her that we could not use the bus at noon. Ok, I’m not going to lie, my first thought was to react, but then I practiced mindfulness. Keep in mind the zoo is 3.8 miles from the Smithsonian Castle. Not an easy walk for a group of 55. Also keep in mind that almost all in the group had never been to Washington D.C. – certainly, never been on the Metro! 

As I took a moment to become mindful, however, I decided that with a Metro station two blocks from the zoo at Woodley Park, and then a short ride with one change from the Red Line to the Orange or Blue Line at Metro Center, it would be a cheap, $2.75 per person, experience and journey for our students and families. So, what did I do? While the group was exploring at the zoo, I went and purchased 55 Metro passes. What a great experience and adventure it was! Bottom line: we all got to Enid A. Haupt Garden on time for our program (see picture below)! I had students telling me it was the greatest thing they had done. All of our participants were glad to have had the experience. What a great lesson for our students to learn how to use mass transit.   While there may only be a slight difference between the words react and respond. In practice, there seems to be a gulf of difference. When people react, it seems to be defensive and snap, poor decisions are made. By practicing mindfulness, however, responding is more thoughtful. Mindful responses contain reasoning. If mindfulness is being more centered within and aware of others, then this is a practice we need to embrace to prevent reacting and focus on responding. Being mindful in our responses ensures integrity in our interactions. It might even enable us, as leaders, to provide opportunities of great adventures for those we serve!

Spirit of Performance

  Drucker believed that the spirit of performance in an organization is led by leaders who are committed to getting the right things done (effectiveness) and doing the right things (efficiency) (Maciariello, 2014). These leaders must posses integrity of character, a vision for the organization, and focus. They must also be able to lead change. Drucker called those who could lead change agents “disturbing elements” (Maciariello, 2014). A disturbing element in an organization is a leader who seeks to change its culture and practices to prevent bureaucratic behavior from settling in. These leaders bring energy and spirit to the organization.

Drucker also believed that the purpose of an organization is to “make common men do uncommon things” (Maciariello, 2014). We all hire from the same pool of common people. Face it, we are all just common people. Why do some achieve greatness in the companies, organizations, and schools they work for? Because there has been at least one leader in that institution who prodded people to develop, improve, innovate, and sustain the spirit of performance. Organizations must see being entrepreneurial and innovative as a duty. As such, organizations must develop their people to be entrepreneurial and innovative. This ca be accomplished with “conscience” activities. Those activities that remind the organization what it should be doing and what it isn’t doing. 


 Those leaders who provide the sustaining spirit for an organization are forever watchful for bureaucratic tendencies allowing people to drift into repetitive routines and lose focus on primary results. I was really reminded in this week’s lesson, how much all of this really deals with people. It deals with hiring the right people and then providing the right opportunities and a culture of performance. Furthermore, it is important to remember that decisions that affect people, their placement and pay, promotion, demotion, and severance, must represent the values and core beliefs of the organization. As businesses, organizations, and schools, innovate and evolve there will be people who are just not the right fit. This poor fit may be because of skill level, personality or any number of things. Drucker teaches us this is natural. We must work to make conscience decisions about how to get them the professional development they need, help them understand the gap in fit, or come to an understanding together that it is just not in the best interest of either party to continue. I liked the suggestion by Maciariello (2014) that we should always ask the question, “What can they do?” Many times there are adjustments that can be made.

Are you providing the spirit of performance in your organization?


Maciariello, J. A. (2014). A year with Peter Drucker: 52 weeks of coaching for leadership effectiveness. New York, NY: HarperCollins Publishers. 

Leaders See the Faces

Posted in Education, Educational Leadership, Leadership by Dr. Byron L. Ernest on April 11, 2015

  I had the privilege this week to accompany our Hoosier Academies families to Washington D.C. It was a great trip and I loved getting to know our families and students we serve better. As you probably know I have spent a great deal of time in our nation’s capital and every time I am there I learn something new to reflect on. This time was now exception. When visiting the exhibit dedicated to women,  Women in Military Service For America Memorial, at Arlington Cementary I was struck by how personal the exhibit was. It is very well done. You actually get to know the women that have served our country personally. This made it so much more powerful experience. I knew these women’s stories when I was done.   Then, later that day our group went to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. This museum is a very intense experience that starts with you being given a card with information about an actual victim of the Holocaust. You are to reflect on this person as you move through the museum. Believe me, it becomes very personal! The individual I was given was, Iosif Rivkin. Here is his story: He was born in 1891 in Minsk, Belorussia.    Iosif was born to a Jewish family in the Belorussian capital of Minsk. He fought with the Tsarist troops in World War I and was taken prisoner by the Germans. When he returned to Minsk after the war, he began working in a state-owned factory building furniture, an occupation in which a number of his relatives also made a living. 

By the early 1930’s Iosif was married and had three daughters. They lived in central Minsk. By the late 1930’s Minsk was filled with Polish refugees fleeing the German invasion. On June 27, 1941, the invading Germans reached Minsk. The Rivkens’ home was bombed the next day, and they were forced into the street. They slept by the river with numerous other refugees, until German guards threatened to shoot them all. German posters in Minsk declared that the Nazis had come to liberate the Soviet Union from Communism and Jews. In August the Germans set up a ghetto, there Iosif was put to work as a carpenter. When the ghetto was liquidated in October 1943, Iosif and his family were deported. Iosif’s daughter, Berta, escaped from the ghetto before it was liquidated. Iosif and the rest of his family were never heard from again.

As I reflected on his story, I caught myself really having feelings about what had happened to him and his family. Why was I able to do this? Because I was able to see the faces of Iosif and his family.  Isn’t that an important skill that leaders learn? It is important for us to tell the stories so that those we lead understand the faces, the values, the mission, and the vision. I really believe in the value of telling stories as a leader, but had not really thought about the exercise of seeing the faces myself. Not to me mention telling the story so those we lead see the faces. This was such a powerful lesson. I really believe that our great leaders that we celebrated while in Washington D.C., like Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln, Martin Luther King Jr., Franklin Delano Roosevelt, and John F. Kennedy all were able to see the faces of all those Americans they served. After reflection, I really believe it was their ability to see the faces of the people that gave them there wisdom.   I am so glad I had this revolation and then was able to spend time on the trip getting to know a cross section of the Hoosier Academies families I serve. As the leader of a very large statewide school system that serves students in every county in the state of Indiana, it is very important that I am able to see the faces of those we serve. Are you taking time to see the faces and truly understanding those you lead? 

Leading Together By Working Together


We are increasingly moving towards multinational, transnational organizations that are held together by two factors: control of mission and strategy, and enough people who know and trust each other. Distributed leadership and a flattened hierarchies are key to accomplishing this. In this week’s lesson on Peter Drucker, and example of how the Coca Cola Argentina division had to make a decision that was right for helping the people of Argentina, but not good for the bottom line of the company based in Atlanta Georgia (Maciariello, 2014). Coca Cola understood that performance measures for foreign subsidiaries should be adapted to local political and economic realities. 


As leaders we must learn to balance having a bold vision with what to do next. We must also learn to lead together by working together. Everyone in the organization must understand the values, objectives, and expectations of the organization. This is why it is important to build a team that is competent. Empowerment without competence is chaos. Wherever you sit in the organization, there is many times a tendency to wait for others to lead. We need to create an environment where everyone in our organizations can lead from where they sit.

Trust-based relationships must replace command and control mechanisms as coordinating mechanisms. This will allow effective leaders time to perform important duties. We must create enough autonomy for our teams to meet the local realities they face. Maciariello (2014) closed this week’s lesson by posing a great question that we all, as leaders, need to answer. Does your organization have resilient trust networks, that allow individuals to transfer information to and from one another? 


Maciariello, J. A. (2014). A year with Peter Drucker: 52 weeks of coaching for leadership effectiveness. New York, NY: HarperCollins Publishers. 

The Leadership Bottleneck!

Posted in Coaching, Education, Educational Leadership, Leadership, Strategic Planning by Dr. Byron L. Ernest on March 29, 2015


“The bottleneck is at the head of the bottle,” so the old saying goes. In other words, no business or organization is likely to be better than, or perform better than, its top management and leadership. As a management innovator, Peter Drucker built off of the existing knowledge of others to create and integrate missing knowledge into the organization. He called this practice “integration” (Maciariello, 2014). Top management and leadership is responsible for creating and for maintaining the spirit of the organization, which includes values, standards of conduct, and standards of quality.


So, the first task in designing and assessing an organization is the presence of an effective top management and leadership team with a strong spirit of performance. Close behind in importance is a program for developing talent to fill open management positions. Most call this the building of a bench. This athletic team analogy is appropriate. Study any successful athletic team and you will find a strong bench of players ready to perform at a moments notice. This year’s NCAA Tournament has given us many examples. Not the least of which would be Kentucky who just had their 38th season win defeating Notre Dame last night. I had the opportunity to watch this Kentucky team play in person during the tournament and it doesn’t matter who is on the floor for them – they are all great. We can certainly learn from them as we build our teams.


This building of a bench is very important to employee engagement. One of the things I am working very hard on for the school I now serve is a leadership academy for building our talent bench. We are going to take a group of our talented teacher leaders each year and put them through a program that will be individualized for their specific needs and interests. We are in the planning stages of this and I am sure I will blog about this in the future. In the meantime I will share a picture of a screenshot of some notes from a meeting about this, just this week.


In any major institution, such as a school corporation, the finding, developing, and proving out of leaders of tomorrow is an essential job to which the best leaders must give fully of their time and attention. Maciariello (2014) asked some great questions in this week’s reading: 

  • Is your organization preparing future leaders by giving significant responsibility and authority to lower level executives?
  • What has been the organization’s track record of finding successors for key positions inside versus outside?

These are certainly questions I will want to use as guides as we develop our bench. How about you?


Maciariello, J. A. (2014). A year with Peter Drucker: 52 weeks of coaching for leadership effectiveness. New York, NY: HarperCollins Publishers. 

Leading Beyond The Walls

Posted in Education, Education Reform, Educational Leadership, Strategic Planning by Dr. Byron L. Ernest on March 22, 2015

This 12th week reading in A Year With Peter Drucker (Maciariello, 2014) may have resonated with me more than any yet. Drucker was a fan and student of the Federalist Papers. As a student of Patrick Henry you all know I am a believer in state’s rights and the 10th Ammendment to our nation’s constitution which reads: “The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the states respectively, or to the people.” I believe Drucker took the last part of that Ammendment very seriously. We as leaders have a responsibility to provide leadership and be involved in government and civic organizations.

Drucker argued that while each organization should fulfill its primary mission, it should seek to “lead beyond borders.” (Maciariello, 2014). We, as leaders are responsible for our institutions and be concentrated and focused on them, but Drucker believed we must be focused on the community as a whole. In his first year as governor of California, Ronald Reagan used 200 top CEOs, as volunteers on sabbaticals from their companies, to solve the budget crisis. Reagan said, “For every problem their are 10 people waiting to volunteer if someone could give them the lead and show them where they can be useful.” We, as leaders, need to also be seeking areas where we can provide insight and be useful.

Leadership and management of businesses was where Drucker began, but his first love, I believe, was the management of nonbusinesses like hospitals, churches, and schools. He was very involved with social sector management and leadership, particuarly with non-profits. He found these interesting because it is very difficult to define what the results should be. How do you define the results of a school, for instance? This is a very important question that I believe is yet to be answered. Drucker would have said it is my responsibility, as a school leader, to lead beyond the walls of my school and help to solve this question. I also believe it is very important to be involved civically and be an agent of social change. Drucker defined civic responsibility as: “giving to the community in the pursuit of one’s own interest or of one’s own task.” (Maciariello, 2014, p. 100)

Results are more difficult to define for social sector organizations, like schools, than for business organizations. This is because the social sector institutions are involved in changing lives of individuals for the better. Results must be more than merely good intentions, but must also be tailored to fit the organization. We must be acutely aware of the importance of defining results in terms of our own mission and effectively manage the fulfillment of that mission. This is why I believe schools should have a role in determining the accountability metrics of their individual school. Each school will be stronger the more clearly it defines its objectives. Organizations are more effective the more yardsticks and measurements there are against which the performance can be appraised. Our product we are producing in schools is a changed human being. We are human change agents. Our product is a child that learns. 

Some questions for pondering from this week’s lesson are:

  • What needs are your organization meeting as a part of your primary mission?
  • How effective and efficient are you in carrying out your mission?
  • How effective are you at changing lives for good?
  • Are you leading beyond the borders of your organization/business?
  • Are you mentoring other leaders or managers?


Maciariello, J. A. (2014). A year with Peter Drucker: 52 weeks of coaching for leadership effectiveness. New York, NY: HarperCollins Publishers. 

The Good Samaritan Marathon

Posted in Inspirational, Leadership, Spiritual by Dr. Byron L. Ernest on March 21, 2015

This past Thursday I had the opportunity to go with good friend, Kevin Eikenberry, to the NCAA tournament game where Purdue played Cincinnatti. The game was held in the KFC Yum Center in Louisville, Kentucky. I was excited to be going because it was my first NCAA Tournament game. Kevin had been to many of these and got tired of me saying, “We are in the house!” Sorry Kevin! 

Obviously the outcome of the game was not what we wanted, but that really turned out to be a lesser story of the trip. Something astonishing happened and we were both reminded how important it is to help your fellow-man. Long-story-short, we hit something in the road and it literally punctured the tire and went through the rim on my friend’s BMW. We tried to change the tire along the interstate, but had some difficulty. That’s a whole other story that the two farm boys in the BMW are still figuring out how to tell! Anyway, we called AAA, and then (since the tire and rim were both already ruined) drove to the next exit – Exit 41 on I 65, the Uniontown/Crothersville, Indiana exit.

We then limped into the exit, pulled into the Marathon station, and began working on the car again. Remember, you have two farm boys here wanting to fix the tire. We then got a message back from AAA that it would be an hour before help arrived. This would have got us to the game late. Little did we know there were Good Samaritans at Exit 41.

An interesting thing happened at the gas station, Uniontown Marathon- RMD 64 (pictured here in the post) on the way to the tournament. Every single person that pulled into that gas station/mini mart while we were there attempted to help us. No lie – every single one. We were amazed! One lady knew BMWs and was explaining the wheel locks and another was googling BMWs for us. Then we had a car full of fellow Purdue Boilermaker fans wanting to make room in the car for us and get us to the game. I looked at Kevin and said, “I’ll see you at the game!” Really, I did say that, but I did not leave him. 

Then, along came a man that knew exactly what to do. Bottom line: he made it possible for us to change the tire and get on the road. We are both so appreciative of everyone who asked to help us. We are both also still astonished that every single person who pulled into that station asked to help. How many times have you pulled in somewhere and seen someone with a broken down car or some other need and thought you were too busy to help? I am ashamed to say I have. But, from the modeling and coaching of our friends at the Uniontown/Crothersville exit, I hope to be a better neighbor!

In reflecting on and deciding how to tell this story (there is quite a bit more and gets quite funny), I thought of the ultimate story/parable teller: Jesus. I believe it would be a good reminder for us to review the story of the Good Samaritan found in the book of Luke. Luke 10: 25-37.

“Jesus told many stories, or parables, to help people learn the truth. One day a leader of the Jews asked Jesus what he must do to have eternal life. The Savior asked him what the scriptures said. The leader said that a man should love God and also love his neighbor. Jesus said that he was right. Then the leader asked, “Who is my neighbour?”

Jesus answered by telling the man a story. One day a Jewish man was walking on the road to the city of Jericho. Thieves robbed and beat him. They left the man on the road, almost dead. Soon a Jewish priest came by and saw the man. The priest walked by on the other side of the road. He did not help the man. Another Jewish man who worked in the temple came by. He saw the injured man. But he did not help the man either and walked by on the other side of the road. 

Then a Samaritan man came along. The Jews and the Samaritans did not get along. But when the Samaritan saw the man, he felt sorry for him. He took care of the man’s wounds and put clothes on him. The Samaritan took the man to an inn and cared for him until the next day. When the Samaritan had to leave, he gave money to the innkeeper and told him to take care of the man. 

After Jesus told this story, He asked the Jewish leader which of the three men was a neighbor to the injured man. The leader said that the Samaritan was because he had helped the man. Jesus told the Jewish leader to be like the Samaritan.”

So what do we learn from this story? We must be willing to get involved. Good intentions don’t cut it! None of the people at the Uniontown Marathon – RMD 64 were just saying they wanted to help; they all truly got involved in some way. They were “walking the talk.” We may quote scripture and recite platitudes on love and God, but unless we are willing to get involved in the lives of others, we are only blowing smoke. The Samaritan treated and bandaged the wounds. He set the injured man on his donkey. He took him to an inn and cared for him throughout the night. The Samaritan could have said to himself, “I give regularly to my church.  I donate to the Salvation Army every Christmas. I have done my part.” But he didn’t. As the scriptures say, he had compassion…and he acted on it.

So here are three things we need to do: 

    1.    Don’t refuse to help when you are able.

    2.    Never assume someone else will do it. Take personal responsibility.

    3.    You may suffer for doing well, but helping someone in need is truly         worth it.

Next time you have an opportunity to serve someone in need (a motorist in distress on the highway, a person under a cloud of depression, a friend in a financial bind, a single parent being overwhelmed by a rebellious child, a stressed-out coworker…) what will your reaction be? Will you be the religious law-speaking type or the proactive law-living type?

Thanks again to the folks in Uniontown and Crothersville last Thursday evening for giving us a modern day parable to live by.


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 110,416 other followers