Episode 147

Authentic Leadership

October 3, 2019 | Leadership
Guest:Tom Bailey

In this episode, host Carole Dorn-Bell is joined by Tom Bailey, Superintendent of Washington Court House City Schools in Ohio. Tom is a repeat guest who brings amazing energy, creativity and care to what he does in his school district as well as his community.

Carole and Tom discuss Authentic Leadership, beginning with what the term means to him. He subscribes to the model established in Bill George’s book, Authentic Leadership: Rediscovering the Secrets to Creating Lasting Value.

“I really take to heart the purpose I have,” Tom says. “I always say when I stop jumping out of bed in the morning thinking that I have the very best job in the world then I need to reevaluate what I’m doing—and maybe stop what I’m doing. But right now that’s the kind of attitude that I have each and every day.”

The five aspects of Authentic Leadership covered in Bill George’s book are:

1. Purpose/passion

2. Values

3. Relationships

4. Self-discipline

5. Heart

Carole asks why it is important to lead both inside the school district as well as out in the community. Tom says that early in his tenure he wanted to make sure that he was practicing what he preached about a “circle of life” between a school district and its community.

“What I believe is if the community wanted the school district to get better, that the school district in turn needed the community to get better,” Tom says. “We go hand in hand in how we do business and how we make each other better.”

Creating a healthy community is important because the school district needs to have parents who want to bring kids to the district, as well as teachers who want to move there.

Tom talks about all the activities he participates in, such as Rotary Club, the Lions Club, the local chamber of commerce as well as church gatherings.

“I make sure that I go to the meetings so that I can really connect with people… making sure I’m connecting with the business leaders, talking to them about how we’re moving forward,” Tom says. “We’re looking at attracting new businesses and new business models to the county.”

Carole and Tom talk about the success of the district’s Big Blue Bus, a mobile summer meal program featured earlier this summer on our podcast. It served 20,700 meals in its first year.

Tom and Carole discuss how challenges can be viewed as opportunities, which is especially important for rural school districts.

“Education is just changing so drastically and we need to make sure that our students have as much opportunity to be successful as any student in suburban America or urban America,” Tom says. “Some of the opportunity that I have is to really talk to folks about what is possible for our kids.”

That means highlighting quality local jobs, such as with a food processing companies that is implementing robots and hiring for information technology talent.

“That’s part of that circle of life I like to talk about,” Tom says.

Highlighting upcoming goals, Tom talks about the planned renovation of an auditorium that was built in the 1930s.

“We really believe this is going to be a game changer for our community,” he says.

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