What businesses and schools can learn from each other

The IBE Principal Partnership Program is modeled after the YPO (Young Presidents’ Organization), a global leadership community of chief executives with approximately 29,000 members in more than 130 countries. One of the principles of the IBE program is that leadership is a lonely place, and it is hard to get good perspective, unbiased support, and honest, constructive critical feedback from inside your organization. It is hard to imagine that being a principal of a school is not a similarly lonely position with huge responsibility. A principal oversees an organization with a tight budget, personnel challenges, and expectations of performance from stakeholders ranging from parents to administrators to taxpayers to students. More than that, a principal is charged with delivering results from an incredibly flat organization, with very little supervision/management resources inside their schools.

By combining IBE members’ general management experience with principal’s administrative and education experience in peer group forums, we create symbiotic relationships of support and diverse perspectives. Participants in the IBE Principal Partnership Program meet monthly to discuss issues and challenges. These meetings happen alternatively off and on campus so the principal can have some space to think strategically and the IBE member can see the principal in his/her environment. Ideally, the IBE member would be invited to sit in on some of the staff meetings at the school and the principal would be invited to sit in on some of the strategic/leadership meetings of the IBE member’s business.

Principal and IBE member engage in a three-month trial period. If they mutually agree to move forward, they commit to a year together. At the end of each year, the Principal and IBE member provide feedback on the program (not on the individual) to evaluate the value each person is receiving from the relationship.

IBE will facilitate the program with coordination with and help from the school district. This includes identifying members, identifying principals, collecting feedback and best practices, facilitating conflict resolution, and managing process improvement. At the end of each year, IBE will convene all Principal Partner participants to discuss the program and share best practices.

IBE volunteers should be educated as to the expectation of a school and a principal. The volunteer should know the metrics used to evaluate the school, the mechanisms used to determine funding as well as the legal and policy limitations that constrain the principal.