As you’ll learn from the video interview I recently recorded with Patrick Watson, Superintendent of Michigan’s Bloomfield Hills Schools, Pat has achieved quite a feat: making the challenging transition from building principal to highly effective chief executive officer of one of our nation’s premier public school districts. From first-hand observation, I can attest that Pat has more than met the challenge, providing this prestigious educational enterprise with a firm and capable captain at the helm.
You’ll learn from our interview that Pat’s successful transition from principal to superintendent is the result of both meticulous preparation for the chief executive role and critical character attributes that have played a key role in his career development. You’ll learn that early in his educational career, when he was a classroom teacher, Pat set his sights on some day taking the helm of a public school district. As Pat observes in our interview, he felt under no pressure to put together a detailed game plan for reaching the top professional post, but he did have a clear vision where his career was headed. He accordingly:
- Set about systematically mastering technical functions he knew would be critical to his success as a superintendent, such as financial planning and management, human resource management (including contract negotiation), strategic planning and budget development.
- Began cultivating a network of mentors who could be depended on to provide honest feedback and insightful counsel at different junctures in his developing career. Anyone who knows Pat well is aware that he has never hesitated to admit that he needs help in dealing with one issue or another. Arrogance is not one of his weaknesses!
- Became a serious student of chief executive officer-ship, acquiring an in-depth understanding of the various facets of this most complex of all executive roles.
Pat didn’t rely on technical mastery alone, as you’ll learn from our interview. Certain character and personality traits have helped him not only reach the top, but also to thrive at the helm. For example, Pat is by nature a “people-person” and team player who is always on the lookout for collaborators and partners. Rather than finding our rapidly changing world threatening, Pat relishes opportunities for creative change and growth. And perhaps most importantly, Pat possesses a character trait I think of as “true humility.” Although he is professionally ambitious and highly competitive, he never loses sight of the fact that he is not the center of the universe, the end-all, be-all. Although his ego is robust, it is also quite healthy, not requiring continuous affirmation or propping up.