What leadership lessons can businesses learn from a world-class public high school?

As a speaker, having had a foot in both worlds – education and business, there are some valuable lessons that business leaders can learn from top performing schools and the principals that lead them.

Case in point, Tom Bauman was the principal at Hopkins High School in Hopkins, MN when all three of our children attended.  My wife Susan was elected to serve for ten years on the Hopkins School Board, a district with 8,000 students.  In Minnesota, education is a top priority and we take pride in our public schools.  This past year, Minnesota has captured the #2 second best SAT test scores and #1 best ACT test scores in the United States.

Hopkins High School was known for its level of excellence in academics, athletics and the arts, along with having the third highest percentage of diversity in students behind the Minneapolis and St. Paul public schools.  The reason for the high level of achievement at Hopkins High School?  As I saw it, two reasons – the leadership of the principal, Tom Bauman and the high level of excellence on the part of his staff.

In speaking to Tom about his leadership style and how he was able to assemble such a talented group of educators, Tom cited:

1) “I tell new teachers, ‘I hired you.  Earn the faith I have put in you. Prove to me that you are even better than I think you are because if you aren’t, then I am going to have to find someone who is.’

2) “I raid other schools. I look for #1 draft picks in area schools. We can’t pay a teacher a higher salary however, I can ask them what their ideal, dream program is and I will do everything I can to help create it and support them.”

3) “I take away the excuses from low performers and I remove the obstacles from the top performers.”

4) “I stack the house with top performing, high expectation educators and everyone gets better.  Average educators feel very uncomfortable in high-performance schools.  They either up their game and improve or leave and teach somewhere else.”

5) “I continually ask, “How can we get a little better? What can we do to create a culture where excellence is expected, full engagement is valued and students feel truly connected.”

Take those five leadership lessons from Tom Bauman, apply them to your team and be it education or business, you will create a true culture of excellence.

Nice Bike, Tom Bauman