Last week, our faculty and staff gathered at our Woodland Park campus for our staff retreat to kick off the new school year. At that time, I introduced briefly the missional and organizational standards that I have been working with over the past year. In this edition of the Leadership Lesson, I want to give you the background on how I came to think about these standards. I want to share some further clarification of them, and then I hope to stimulate your thinking and maybe even provoke your personal paradigm, which may provide for some interesting and spirited discussion.
Last year as part of my sabbatical, I had the privilege of spending some time developing my own personal leadership through a number of activities and events. One of the most rewarding, and the one that has a direct impact on CSCS, is the one day behind the scenes tour, sponsored by the Disney Institute. In preparation for my trip to Orlando, I had read a number of books recommended to give both the background and history of Walt Disney World (WDW). One of the things that you hear from the people who either work for WDW or live in the area is that they “work for the Mouse” or that “it was all started with a Mouse”.
Well this lesson is entitled, “What I Learned from the Mouse”, and the missional and organizational standards that follow were inspired by the mouse. One of the things that most impressed me is how WDW, which now employs about 58,000 employees known as cast members, manages to keep the mission alive through the behavior of each cast member. In other words, no matter if you are picking up paper or working in entertainment, or have an executive level position, you live out the standards that are WDW.
So in this lesson, and the one that follows, I am going to share the missional and organizational standards of CSCS that I developed as a result of watching a company that has become the benchmark in entertainment, resorts and amusement parks. At the end of this lesson, I have included a few of the books that I have read on this journey and if you want to do more reading about the WDW way you can pick up a few of them.
Our mission at CSCS is to provide an excellent education, from a Christ-centered biblical perspective, for life-long service. I spent time last spring thinking a lot about our mission and how to live it out in front of those we serve rather than just be able to recite it or post it on the walls of the institution. Here are the four qualities or values of the mission:
- Educational Excellence
- Vibrant Christ-centeredness
- The Holy Spirit informs both the decisions and direction of CSCS
- Mission over me
Educational Excellence. This is the easiest of the four to define because it states why we exists. We are an educational institution and we are charged with delivering an excellent education. That means that we want our students to be prepared intellectually, spiritually, emotionally and physically. We do not sacrifice one of those virtues for the sake of another nor do we take short cuts or become complacent in teaching, modeling and mentoring each of our students in all of these areas. Excellence is not being the best at everything, but rather, being the best and doing the best with what we have at our disposal at the moment the situation or circumstance presents itself. That means preparation and practice are key ingredients to living consistently a life of excellence and then accepting no less as a part of CSCS.
Vibrant Christ-centeredness. When I hear the word “vibrant” I think of brilliant colors that an artist paints on a blank canvas, or a brilliant sunset with pinks, reds and blues that fill the sky. I also think of passion or energy when I think of living a life with vibrancy. So, with Christ-centeredness, I am drawn to the idea of a passionate pursuit of following Jesus, and a life full of energy lived with hope and optimism.
The Holy Spirit informs both the decisions and direction of CSCS. At CSCS we hear all the time from visitors that there is a different spirit that they experience when they walk into CSCS. That is the freedom of the Holy Spirit and so, if the Spirit of God is free to reign, then He should also be free to direct our decisions and direction. This takes humility on our part to admit that “we don’t know all the answers” and we are willing to trust Him to lead us both in our discovery of the right answers and the courage to live them out. It also means being flexible and compliant when the answer is given to move in a different direction or the decision is a ‘no’ for the moment.
Mission over Me. This is the servant leadership part of our mission. What is says is that we value others and we seek to be a completer and fulfill the role that God has given to each of us for the sake of the mission and the growth of the team. The interesting thing about this perspective is that when we practice it consistently, we are completed and we grow as well. Sometimes this also may mean that we have to give up something personally to go up to a higher missional level.
What does it all mean? Well, it lays out for us a clear path to follow in order to grow personally and to live missional. It means that we are letting go of trying to be perfect and strive for being consistent and understanding the true meaning of excellence. It means living it first in our lives and being passionate about our relationship with Christ, then it becomes contagious to those who follow. It means being humble to keep learning, flexible to keep changing into all Christ has in mind for us. Finally it means having the same attitude as Christ when he says in Philippians 2 that he was obedient to his mission of the cross, humble in his calling to take on the form of a servant, and excellent in fulfilling all that God had in mind for him and confirmed it by saying, “This is my beloved son in whom I am well pleased.”
In His Grip,
Roland F. DeRenzo
Let me know what you think and share your comments with me and your colleagues to further our discovery and discussion.
Here is a short bibliography of some of the books on Disney Leadership:
Dream it Do it by Marty Sklar
The Disney Way by Bill Capodagli and Lynn Jackson
How to be Like Walt by Pat Williams
In the Service of the Mouse by Jack Linquist
Be our Guest by The Disney Institute
Creating Magic: 10 Common Sense Leadership Strategies from a Life at Disney by Lee Cockerell
The Customer Rules by Lee Cockerell
Inside the Magic Kingdom: Seven Keys to Disney’s Success by Tom Connellan[/prk_accordion]“What I Learned from the Mouse” Part II
In the last leadership lesson, we reviewed the missional standards of CSCS that both define our values and inform our decisions. For a quick review, the missional standards are:
- Educational Excellence
- Vibrant Christ-centeredness
- The decisions and direction of CSCS are directed by the Holy Spirit
- Mission over me
In this lesson, I would like to share the organizational standards which are the behaviors that come from living out the missional values. Most organizations have a mission statement but few have missional standards. It is one thing to hang a mission statement on the wall but it is something totally different to live the mission from the heart.
It was Walt Disney who once said, “You can dream, create, design, and build the most wonderful place in the world—but it requires people to make the dream a reality.”
At CSCS we often speak about the heart of the matter and that the teacher is at the heart of everything we do. So we have taken the acronym HEART and come up with these behavioral values:
- Healthy, safe environment
- Excellence in every facet of the institution
- Accountability in behavior
- Relational in actions
- Truthful and reliable in all situations
A healthy, safe environment means that we pay attention to conditions both internally and externally. At CSCS, we were one of the first Christian schools several years ago to add a Security Director to our leadership team. Our commitment to security and safety is important, not just to the physical campus, but also in the classroom. For you as parents, it is paramount that you know that you can trust the teacher that is helping to shape and mold the mind, values and life for your child. Our commitment to being Christ-centered from a Biblical perspective is your assurance that the spiritual environment is consistent and nurturing for your children and young people.
The excellence in every facet of the institution means that we will not cut corners or allow mediocrity to creep in and rule the day. This is part attitude and part behavior. It means that we will strive to do the best we can with the resources we are blessed with to achieve the God-given purpose. Whether that is in the classroom or on the athletic field or in the concert hall, we are committed to model excellence in our lives and then mentor those young lives God has entrusted to CSCS.
Accountability in behavior means that personal responsibility for our own behavior is at the forefront of our expectations for each other as a staff. In the leadership team here at CSCS we have taken it a step further by developing our shared leadership values and have signed a covenant with each other to live these leadership values out in our personal and professional lives. We believe what it says in Luke 6:40, “…But everyone who is fully trained will be like their teacher..” I like the admonition that the Apostle Paul gave in I Corinthians 11:1 that says, “…follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ.”
Relational in actions means serving others and placing their needs above my own. Our theme verse for this year says it well in Philippians 2:3-4; “…Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking out for your own interests but each of you to the interests of others…” Loving one another as Christ loves us and serving each other as Christ has commanded is the path to true and lasting relationships.
Truthful and reliable in all situations means that what we say in word is backed up in our actions. I believe it was Francis of Assisi who said; “Preach the Gospel at all times and when necessary use words.” That is our desire as staff at CSCS, to be authentic not perfect, loving not hateful, serving not served. In a world that has it wrong and sends the wrong message, it is both a blessing and privilege to be able to serve here at CSCS.
Yes, Walt Disney was right that it takes people to make the dream a reality, but it takes Christ to transform the heart, renew the mind, and direct the life. What a Savior we serve!
Roland F. DeRenzo
Superintendent of Schools
Colorado Springs Christian Schools