New View EDU Episode 5: Schools for Developing Superpowers

Available September 7

Find New View EDU on Apple Podcasts, Google Play, Spotify, Stitcher, and many other podcast apps.

Are we creating school environments that allow us to see the “assumed awesomeness” in everyone? Now, more than ever before, school leadership is about modeling hope, resilience, and a sense of possibility, so we can support our communities in developing their collective superpowers.

Sanyin SiangSchool leadership has never been easy, but at this moment in particular, there are new challenges and opportunities that could completely transform school, for better or worse. What is the role of a leader at this point in time? What are the practices that will help school leaders navigate the ambiguity and uncertainty ahead while staying true to a vision for their communities? This year, and the years ahead, are going to be a test of resilience, trust and courage. And to pass the test, CEO coach, author, and executive director of the Fuqua/Coach K Center on Leadership and Ethics at Duke University Sanyin Siang believes we’ll have to make a fundamental shift to prioritizing relationships in our schools.

In this episode, hosts Tim Fish and Lisa Kay Solomon invite Sanyin Siang to apply her learnings from working with top leaders from the military, athletics, and global entrepreneurship to the school setting. What are the essential understandings, skills, and practices school leaders can adapt from other settings to create dynamic and supportive environments for students and staff? How can we learn from the legacies of great leaders like Coach K to transform our own teams and live lives of significance? It’s a big topic to tackle at a time when many are focused on just getting students back to school and back to the traditions and systems we recognize. But Sanyin argues that in this moment of transformation, we have a unique opportunity to adapt our practices to help our schools thrive in a rapidly changing world.

Examining resilience through the lens of leadership, Sanyin explains how individual resilience must give way to a deeper understanding of collective resilience. She offers insights into the difference between developing learning environments for transactional education—such as knowledge acquisition—and developing learning environments for relational education that recognizes the personal contributions each person can make to a team. And she vividly paints the picture of leadership as an art form that chips away all but the “assumed awesomeness” in each person, leaving every student and staff member ready to develop their own superpowers.


Key Questions

Some of the key questions Tim and Lisa explore in this interview include:
  • How can seeing themselves as coaches help school leaders model more effective practices?
  • How can we see the full range of value and possibility inherent in every person within our school communities? 
  • What does it look like to honor the contributions of each person to a larger team dynamic, rather than focusing on individual achievements? How can we measure the impact of great “assists?”
  • What does it mean to live a life of significance, and how do we shift our leadership practices to model and support lives of significance for everyone in our communities?

Episode Highlights

  • “When we look at our students, we're dealing with human possibilities here. Why can't we look at our teams the same way and say, ‘Hey, I wonder what awesomeness there is that have yet to be discovered about you, that you don't even realize, and how we can draw that out?’” (5:48)  
  • “I know the great coaches all care deeply and want to see only the best things happen for the person they're working with.” (9:03)
  • “I think we're also moving from eras of transaction to eras of relationship. When you think about knowledge acquisition, that can feel transactional. Knowledge is very individualistic. But the world is moving so fast, no one single person could have the answers. And so we now are moving to a world of, instead of individuals, to teams. And so with moving to this world of teams, we have to talk about relationships.” (12:51)
  • “And one thing I know about us high achievers is we tend to play our mistakes over and over and over in our head. Instead of thinking about them as mistakes and failures, can we just reframe failures as simply outcomes different than the ones we had hoped for or anticipated?” (19:39)
  • “And what we've discovered is some key themes such as big moments matter, but to be true in the big moments, you have to be true in the small moments. And moments, moments matter.” (38:20)
  • “What is the real role of education? Is it only about knowledge? Is it creating workers for the economy? Or is it about something bigger, more purposeful than that, which is unleashing human possibilities? Because teachers, I think the reason why we think of teachers, is they were among the first to really see us. And when we see someone that's how we matter.” (39:22)

Resource List

Full Transcript

Key Takeaways

About Our Guest

Sanyin Siang is on a mission to discover and enable greatness in others. Whether it’s in her work as a CEO coach, educator, startup advisor, or author, she teaches individuals and organizations to find the champions within themselves and gives them the tools to keep on winning.

Sanyin co-founded and leads Duke University's Coach K Center on Leadership and Ethics at its Fuqua School of Business and is a professor with Duke's Pratt School of Engineering. The center is a leadership laboratory that convenes think-tank gatherings across sectors to explore today’s complex leadership challenges. Sanyin has worked with four-star generals, world-class CEOs, athletes, and Nobel laureates.

Her ideas on leading innovation, storytelling, culture in an age of disruption, and sports business have been featured in The New York Times, Fortune, Forbes, and The Wall Street Journal. She was named to LinkedIn’s Top 20 Global Influencer Voices in 2017 and 2018. She is a member of the 86th Joint Civilian Orientation Conference, the Department of Defense’s oldest civilian program. Her book, The Launch Book: Motivational Stories for Launching Your Idea, Business, or Next Career, inspires readers through stories of different leaders and gives them an action plan for leveraging change using behavioral science concepts.

She is also an advisor for GV (Google Ventures) and Sports Innovation Lab, a faculty member with Story Lab at Duke, and serves on the boards of the Emily K Center and North Carolina Museum of Life and Science.