It all starts at the top

There was an article in the Sunday Review of the NYTimes around education reform.  The gist of the article is that in order to fix schools, start with the Principal.  Something so obvious has been ignored for years but this type of thinking is starting to change among educators and local Government around the public school system.

I have been through several schools in the years from my days at MOUSE to going to visit Charter Schools to our own children’s school where I sat on the board.   There is no doubt that the Principal is the lead on how the school is managed from top down.

This type of thinking can also be applied to start-ups.  Cultures, management, and organization begin with the founder.  It is the founder who sets the tone from the employee handbook to collaboration between each department to gender diversity to mentorship.

Years ago I was at a 50th birthday party literally weeks after the collapse of Bear Stearns.  It was days before the 2008 Presidential election.  The anxiety and disdain for banks such as Goldman Sachs, Chase and others was written about on every front page.  This event had many CEO’s of financial organizations there.  Keep in mind this event was a costume party so I actually had zero idea who was who and truthfully even if they hadn’t been in costume I wouldn’t have known.

I was seated next to one of the most powerful bankers in the city.  Who knew?  We began to talk about the upcoming election.  His view was a bit different than mine.  He believed that it didn’t really make any difference if it was McCain or Obama.  I was curious how he could vote for a man who called Google “The Google”.   He said it didn’t make any difference because his team could run the country.  I pointed out that we just had a President who let Cheney (his assistant essentially) run the country and look how that turned out.  The reality is that Government, like companies, start at the top, like a fish that starts stinking from the head.   I mentioned that as well and to this day I am pretty sure nobody has ever spoken to that man like I did.  Perhaps he found it refreshing but I doubt it.  Fred got a good chuckle out of the whole thing.

We are seeing companies such as Uber with serious gender culture issues and we have President who tells lie after lie.   Cultures come from the top.  The issues inside Uber began with the founder.  Trump’s cabinet is full of liars because he embraces that behavior.  Schools that succeed point directly to the Principal.

If you are ever wondering where does anything start…it starts at the top.