Postcards At The Edge…Of Impact.

Deloitte is a multinational professional services firm headquartered in New York City.  They employ 225,000+ road warriors who provide audit, tax consulting, enterprise risk and financial advisory services across the planet.  Throughout their long history, they have been committed to making the world a better place.  As part of their vision for being “best of breed” they developed Deloitte University, just outside Dallas Texas.  The 170-acre property certainly puts my undergrad and graduate dormitories to shame, and each week, some 800 Deloitte team members arrive for onboarding and professional development.  Each Friday, these people leave after an exhilarating week, and Deloitte U. remains vacant for 52 weekends a year…until recently.

That’s when Jim Quigley, CEO Emeritus, started to make his dream become a reality.  In Jim’s world, how do we support 50 million youngsters in public schools?  It’s the kind of question Jim relishes.  He thinks the single biggest impact on the future of the community is made by the future of the children in its schools right now.  He also believes it’s important to bolster what shapes their performance – what makes them stronger and more capable and influences their ability to lead.  For Jim, to a large degree that turns out to be their principal.

Because principals influence the learning environment, teachers, curriculum, facilities, tools, parent involvement and more, the better and more capable principals are as leaders, the more resourceful, instructive and effective our school systems will become.  That’s Jim’s mission.  It’s also interesting to note that right now he’s attempting to scale that vision by improving 200 principals at a time, using four of those vacant weekends per year.

Meet Deloitte’s Courageous Principals program.  I recently spent a weekend with 200 principals from around the country – primarily from Sacramento City Unified School District, Grande Prairie Independent School District in Texas, and the leadership of Uplift Education, a Charter Management Organization in the Lone Star State.  Other principals arrived from other districts.  They got there because Jim Quigley continues to be a road warrior working with superintendents in and around Deloitte’s corporate offices.  He voluntarily visits superintendents, tells them about the program, and works alongside those superintendents to meet with local business leaders in search of support for program attendance.

The 200 principals I met were thrilled with where they were, and more importantly, with what they were learning.  “It’s completely relevant, and what I learned had never been addressed in my principal preparation program” replied one middle school principal.  But back to the where’s and the what’s.  Deloitte University is a spectacular place with a physical presence and accommodations that honor the nobility and dignity of the principalship.

The pictures below show the outside and the conference rooms and general space.  And then there’s the cuisine: healthy, beautifully presented, and extraordinarily good-tasting: things you don’t often find at a principal training program.  Even my blogger colleague Carina Wong would be proud to dine at DU.

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Most importantly is the “what.”  A principal’s life is characterized by brevity, variety and fragmentation.  They also major in relationships, so when you spend two and half days with such topics as

  • Managing Resistance
  • The Art of Inquiry
  • Using Science to Improve the Art of Relationships
  • Ten Moves to Make Moments Matter

…these strategies immediately grab your attention, and that was certainly the case with the principals I met.  In short, I spent twelve years as a principal, and would have been so much better had I experienced this kind of support much earlier in my career.

So, bravo Jim Quigley.  Bravo Neda Schlictman
(Chief Talent Development Officer and Managing Director of Courageous Principals), bravo Deloitte University, and kudos to the superintendents who work with Jim to bring this professional gift to the principals and the students they serve.