Books to Empower Teachers as Leaders


I distinctly remember the first time I addressed the 70+ people who would now be calling me their principal. Not only was I brand new to the role, but I’d recently moved to the area and was new to the district. These people didn’t know me and I didn’t know them. Whatever I communicated, I wanted to make sure they walked away with a clear, even if beginning, picture of my personal vision and core values.

A big part of my personal why is seeking out and inspiring the greatness in others, especially those I have the opportunity to serve each day. I set the vision that first day that each of our staff would be leaders, not only within our school walls but in the larger educational world. I promised them I would make an intentional effort to empower them as leaders and since then, not only have we built structures to support a leader:leader culture (See 5 Ways to Develop a Leader:Leader Culture), we’ve clarified and shared in learning about what it means to be a leader no matter your title.

Recently, I was participating in the weekly Twitter chat, #leadupchat, and T.J. Vari’s answer to the question below caught my eye. I agreed with him on the intentionality of building leadership capacity and it got me thinking about all of our learning that has occurred around this important focus.


While any educator worth their weight in salt owns their own professional learning, there is something very special and powerful about a team participating in shared learning. The synergy created is palpable and the benefits obvious. While we continue to use various resources to learn as a team, these book studies have proven invaluable.

cultures built to last

Cultures Built to Last: Systemic PLCs at Work by Richard DuFour and Michael Fullan

As our first Teacher Voice Group book study, this book has had a lasting impact on our culture. Not only did it help us build the foundation for what it means to have a loose/tight balance, it has made it’s way into “The Genius of AND” one of our Sticky Core Values.


power of positive leadership

The Power of Positive Leadership by Jon Gordon

This book helped each of us move forward on our leadership journey by outlining nine principles on which we could reflect. It aligns with the positive leadership fable in The Energy Bus while going more in depth with this framework. The stories, research and perspectives provided here continue to help us improve and grow as leaders.



Tribes by Seth Godin

As we were building our collective courage to connect and build something special, this book helped us understand how to gather our peeps and build momentum behind our vision. This is an important read for anyone desiring to understand why we are all called to be a leader.


move your bus Move Your Bus by Ron Clark

As a leadership fable, this book offers insight into what it means to build a culture of excellence and what it takes to be the kind of teammate that requires. Simplistic and powerful, this book helped us understand how to move forward on our path to greatness.


10 Mindframes for Visible Learning by John Hattie 10 Mindframes

As our school needs shifted to looking for rich, resource-backed teaching practices, our teacher voice team spread this book study school-wide. Teacher leaders divided up chapters and led both in-person discussions and activities and monthly #TMGenius twitter chats. This book study both grew them as leaders and enriched our entire team.


the five dysfunctions of a team The Five Dysfunctions of a Team: A Leadership Fable by Patrick Lencioni 

The most recent of our book studies, this has been an invaluable resource to help us understand where we stand as an effective team (a team diagnostic tool is included) and clear next steps to advance. The story Lencioni tells is relatable and calls out any excuses that would promote mediocrity. After reading and reflecting on this book as a team, there is nothing left other than to take courageous next steps to make us better and help us achieve our collective goals.


Each of these learning experiences gave us something specific and unique to help move us forward as a team as well as build us as leaders. We spend intentional time during teacher voice group meetings to learn and connect. Using books to grow together is important to us and to helping us be the best leaders we can be.

Stay tuned for a future post where I share other resources we’ve used, like articles, podcasts and videos, to build our leadership skills.

How do you build others as leaders? Together we are brilliant, so I’d love to connect! Tweet and tag me (@me1odystacy) or feel free to start a conversation by commenting below.

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