Change Leadership: Helping, Mastery, and Appreciative Inquiry

Reflections on approaches and insights from my “guru guides”

Browsing the headlines of my professional learning newsfeed, at once overwhelms and intrigues me. Today, more than ever, educational leaders face multifaceted responsibilities, issues, obstacles, and opportunities. Ensuring safety and Maslow’s (1943) most foundational level of needs (nutrition, shelter, protection from violence) for diverse populations of learners is challenging in and of itself. Then you think about the real purpose of education. Yes, those higher levels of Maslovian hierarchy acceptance, love, self-actualization all supported by healthy foundation of literacy, numeracy, critical thinking, creativity, emotional intelligence, and epistemological beliefs that lean toward a growth mindset (to name a few).

How do leaders facilitate systems, policies, procedures, organizational structures, teams, individuals, and learners through these complex and ever-changing waters?

As an organizational psychologist (i.e., someone who studies human behavior in the workplace), who has been working in education systems for the last twelve of my twenty-two year career, this question at times overwhelms me but more often it intrigues me. When overwhelmed and/or intrigued I, like most professionals, reflect on my past work and/or turn to colleagues, research, and field experts for guidance.

I also constantly find myself revisiting the work of my “guru guides” whose practices and research in numerous organizations have been key drivers in my approach to educational leadership consulting. I won’t pretend to capture all the ways their work has impacted my practice or the practices of my colleagues but, in this series on educational change leadership, I highlight their major ideas and invite you to explore and apply to your own endeavors.


Maslow, A. H. (1943). A theory of human motivation. Psychological Review. 50, 370-96.

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