Mandate and Motivation…

Liberal and weak leadership that openly questions the accuracy and trustworthiness of strong leadership must be called out. Especially in times of crisis, such as we have now. Too many leaders are putting themselves first, taking center stage on decisions, and giving “after the fact congratulations” to the people who are actually doing something.

Nothing like getting right to the point without an introduction, lead-in paragraph, right?

The call for quality leadership is ongoing. We must rally around strong leaders and help them help others to maintain consistent leadership that can block skeptical attacks by those who subscribe to the “me first” attitude.

How can we flesh that out in practical ways? I think the first and foremost answer is in the way in which we proclaim the good that quality leaders are doing. This can easily be seen in the conviction of the way they lead. This conviction leads to the two ideas I have, that in a crisis, every quality leader leads with a mandate and motivation.


There is a mandate for quality leadership. Leadership is a ground that many “want” to walk on, but many cannot. Leaders are called to lead, point-blank, pure and simple. That is the mandate. Any leadership that is weak, self-serving, wants popularity… ignores the mandated purpose of what a quality leadership plan is supposed to be. What’s that? To do right by people. How easy that mandate can and should be. When the mandate of doing right by people is accomplished, it creates accuracy and completeness that many strive for. The mandate is carried out entirely and precisely for others first.

As simple as carrying out this mandate seems, it has to have harmony with the right motivation as to why a leader leads the way they do.


We are in a different season with our lives right now, due to COVID19. The motivation we lead with can be very dangerous if we are not careful. Make no mistake, there will always be difficult times in the days to come. With that being said, this is an opportune time to make sure our motivation to lead is set accordingly and not threatened. I believe that the number one way our motivation gets threatened is through compromise. This compromise is usually placed in motion by impulses to put self first.

That is why the right mandate and motivation to lead is all the more necessary and urgent in this time of calling. Weak, self-first leaders are what I want to call… Leadership Terrorists. They sneak up, backstab, connive with other evil to make way for themselves, provide “truth” in the actual falsehood that leads to deception and ultimately leaves a path of destruction behind.

All of this is why we need the right leadership, mandates and motivation, now more than ever before. Despite all the dangers that threaten quality leadership, putting others first will always be the right thing to do. Lead from behind or follow from the front, I do not care… just lead for the right reasons and leading for yourself is not one.

Mandates and motivation… what are yours today?

Go be a great educator and leader today… Our future needs it…

Remember… Think Leadership and Be For Others

©2020 J Clay Norton

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Staying Close with Your “Distance” Leadership…

The educational world, as now, most definitely, has moved into the distance-learning mode. As educators, we can adapt as well as any profession. Try teaching 150 students with different personalities and different learning styles throughout one to two days. Yep… Did I say the ability to adapt?

You get the idea… However, what about leadership when it comes to the distance-learning mode? How does that look? Can we adapt? Yes, due to recent circumstances, most everything is done by remote, even leadership.

Let’s not talk about the collective decisions of leadership, let’s talk about the relationships of leadership. The decisions we make as leaders are usually made by a consensus, well-informed group, and then disseminated to everyone. I believe that it is just part of doing our jobs as leaders.

Now… on to the relationship part of leadership during these “distance” times…

More than ever, people are looking for leaders to guide them during uncertain times. Rest assured, a leader will always emerge in times of need. Leadership is challenging enough, without all the extra “stuff” that goes on. However, quality leaders probably do not have to change their “style” very much. On the other hand, if a leader leads from a “distance” to begin with, the need to change is now. At some point, if you do not change, then your “distance” leadership will turn into leadership that is so far away, it will be nonexistent leadership.

Here are a few quick thoughts that I have (and this goes for teachers as well)…

While a “blanket” text or email is fine, make a point to be intentional with a few people each day. Just create a running list… Communicate with them individually. If you call, they probably will answer and carry on a conversation. Showing some intentionality will create and possibly strengthen a bond you have with others. People, by nature, work better in a friendly environment. This environment carries over remotely. We really have no excuse, technology has made this so easy.

With regard to “distance” leadership, another thing is to trust. Yes, even remotely. In education, we must trust the teachers. They have more “jobs” going on remotely, then they do when at school. Let them do what they do best; teach. Tell teachers what needs to be done and let them go. Check on them, not their work, per se.

Leading from a distance requires more effort on our part. Now is an excellent time to really invest in the lives of our teams. Ask them something other than work or even weather-related. Ask their opinion on something that could benefit the whole (but do not ask, if you do not want to hear).

The unknown… that is where we are with educational leadership at the moment. However, we are becoming more familiar with it day by day.  The only known is that we have had to adapt and change. Many a leader will rise or fall due to the choices of the decisions that they make during this pandemic. We will need the support of our teams. Make every effort and give your team a reason to support you.

Remember, as a leader, it is up to you to lead. If you do not, someone else will. If that happens, do not get upset. You had your chance… Do not be a “from a distance” leader, stay close. Society already has enough “distance” leaders as it is…

Go be a great educator and leader today… Our future needs it…

Remember… Think Leadership and Be For Others

©2020 J Clay Norton

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The Lamb’s Precious Blood

If you would like to download a printer friendly version of this with the above picture as a washout watermark, click here: The Lamb’s Precious Blood

The Lamb’s Precious Blood

Slavery and bondage, in Egypt we have all lived
Personal plagues affecting each of our lives

Plagues of inherited sin
A darkness needing to be washed

Our need for forgiveness
Our need to be redeemed

God in His infinite wisdom and mercy
Made way for our escape

No afterthought of God
Only His plan and purpose

To “cut” a Covenant for and with His people
A way for us to be “passed over”

The Lamb without spot, without blemish was provided
Slain before the foundation of the world

This Lamb’s blood spilled for the remissions of sins
Sprinkled on the doorposts and lintels of our hearts

Jesus, our Passover Lamb

The Lamb’s precious blood…

Sweated in the Garden of Gethsemane
Ran down His face as the Crown of Thorns was placed upon His head
Soaked the Via Dolorosa with every step from His beaten back
Stained the Cross at Golgotha from the nail-pierced hands and feet
Flowed freely from a Roman spear to His side

God’s great revelation and plan, purposed
Placed Jesus in a tomb for three days

Now our risen Jesus stands between time and eternity
Our entrance to the Throne of God

We are now pardoned and delivered
We have been bought with a price

The atonement paid
The price – The blood of the Son of God

Jesus, our Passover Lamb
Jesus, our Savior

What can wash away my sins, nothing but the blood of Jesus…

© J Clay Norton, 2020

For 2019 Easter Thoughts click here: The Cross I See

For 2018 Easter Thoughts click here: The Cross and The Grave

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Maslow Was Right…

Wow, what a few days and weeks can do to change the way education is…

As I sit here, at our kitchen table, writing this blog, I consider how education is exponentially changing, and for the better, I might add, (I hope). As educators, we have been given and give direction as to how education needs to work the past few weeks, and it appears how it needs to work in the months forthcoming.

One conversation that I have had with myself lately (I have a lot of those by the way) is, “How are teachers and students adjusting?” I somewhat have an idea of the teacher’s side of it, but what are our students thinking at this moment? For what apparent reason, I do not know, but Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs came to mind. If you are an educator, you should know what this is.

Your quick “Reader’s Digest” compressed write-up is this…
Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs was introduced by Abraham Maslow in 1943. The pyramid reflects the universal needs of society, in stages of human development. The most critical layer of the pyramid is the first layer, and upward a person moves. However, for a person to move upward, each layer below must be complete. The layers are, starting from the bottom as the foundation are: physiological, safety, love/belonging, esteem, and self-actualization.

Well, now the question you might be asking yourself is, “What does this have to with education?” I am glad you asked… Education is dealing with people (I know, duh moment for everyone). What I notice is that in Maslow’s Hierarchy, there is not a single layer that refers to an IQ of a person, but every layer can be associated with EQ.

The first layer is the Physiological layer, and while that is the foundation, the other layers are important as well. However, if our students and teachers, for that matter, do not have the foundational layer of their physiological needs met, then the chance to move upward is not going to happen, or if they do move up, it will be with limited motivation, and there is an increase in displeasure within an individual. What does all this mean? If a student is struggling to have their physiological needs met, then they are unlikely to pursue safety, belongingness, esteem, and self-actualization. And let’s throw in doing classwork for that matter.

With all the above being said, hopefully, you can see now why what we do as teachers during this “displaced” time is so essential for our students. The other day I was strolling through Twitter and saw this quote by Dr. Brad Johnson, who is an advocate for education… “Relationships before rigor, Grace before grades, Patience before programs, Love before lessons.” As I saw that, the first question that came to my mind was this… “How many educators are conducting their distance learning as if they were teaching the exact same way as if they were in the classroom?” “Newness of lessons be gone, I’ll just teach as if I were there,” they might say. If this is true, then we are failing measurably at meeting the EQ of our students.

The other day I tweeted out, “As educators, we have a powerful opportunity to be a constant example in our student’s lives during this time.” If we encourage them with relationships, patience, and love, then the rigor, programs, and lessons will fall in place. If we can help students help themselves, then they will be closer to moving up the layers of the pyramid and possibly gaining the self-actualization that we all want them to have. Motivation to succeed is not always innate with our students. The more we can do for them, the more I believe they will do for us. The time for us as educators to truly teach is here. Be the teacher our students need during this time.

Thank you to all the first responders and teachers doing what they do best.  If you see one, say thank you.

Go be a great educator and leader today… Our future needs it…

Remember… Think Leadership and Be For Others

©2020 J Clay Norton

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