Educational Editorial: Running schools vs. running businesses

By Dr. Bill Bosher, NBC12 Educational Specialist

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - This week Moseley Architects announced the appointment of a new Chairman of the Board and CEO to replace retiring Bob Mills, an engineer. Their choice was Dr. Stewart Roberson, former superintendent of the Hanover County Public Schools.

There are significant lessons to learn from this recruitment. Some have commented that it was a masterful move to secure an outstanding public servant to lead an organization that has focused it business on designing public facilities…schools, government buildings, courthouses, and jails. Others would muse…he is in the public sector; what does he know how running a business?"

The answer is that the best public administrators always consider that they are running a business. The only difference is how they generate revenue. One is profit driven and the other is through taxation.

Public organizations can be the best run "businesses" in town if those who are leading them believe that effectiveness and efficiency are critical to their success. Conversely, New York, LA and San Diego have all hired "non traditional" superintendents…two publishers and an attorney.

While some argue that these non-academics need to hire someone with school experience, it has always been true that strong leaders surround themselves with people who can do things that they cannot do.

It seems that the ultimate lesson is that leadership…effective leadership…is transferable between and among public, private, not-for-profit and military institutions.

Organizations often sell themselves short when they confine their leadership searches to look-alikes…and then are others who simply don't want to look like everyone else!

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