Life Lessons in Leadership for Ed Tech Vendors: Leverage

This is the fourth in a series of five articles providing tips for ed tech vendors to use when working with school clients to implement innovative solutions for teaching and learning. Each month we pull a leadership lesson from Life Lessons in Leadership: The Way of the Wallaby, a book I co-authored with Michael Barrett in 2016. The goal of this book is to provide leaders of all ages – “Leaders Ages 8 to 88” – with memorable strategies for leading people and processes, especially when it comes to navigating change.

In the previous three articles we addressed the critical leadership skills of listening, learning and loving (your program, product, process and/or people). This month’s reflections are on the topic of leveraging the talents of others, which is the focus of Chapter 4 in Life Lessons in Leadership: The Way of the Wallaby.


There is probably no other arena that changes more rapidly today than technology. Just as you think you have mastered a program, skill or tool, a new one presents itself. It is one of the reasons that maximizing technology tools for learning is such a challenge for many school systems. Being the “ed tech expert” is no longer a role that any one person can do on their own. This is why collaboration has become one of the essential skills for success in our times. At its core, the verb collaborate means to work jointly with others.

Educational technology vendors who seek to innovate and positively impact the education process for their school clients need to rely on many other people – both inside their own organizations and inside the school systems they support – to assure that their solutions prove successful for their school customers. Inherent in the concept of leveraging the talents of others is the notion of mutual respect.

In my book, Life Lessons in Leadership: The Way of the Wallaby I share words of wisdom from Kathy Hurley, co-editor of Real Women, Real Leaders: Surviving and Succeeding in the Business World. Hurley’s sage advice on how to consistently position yourself to leverage the talents of others includes these three guiding principles:

  1. Jobs and situations may change but people do not. Do not burn bridges as you move from one assignment or role to another.
  2. Network, even when you don’t have to. The person you meet today may turn out to be a valued confidant or colleague in another setting at some point in the future.
  3. Always err on the side of generosity. Help others, even when there is no immediate benefit or reward for yourself.

In a world of accelerating change, leveraging the talents of others is a critical leadership skill. However, when it comes to leveraging the talents of others we must view that as a two-way street. Each one of us must be willing to share our own talents when others come to us with their requests as well as be willing to seek out the talents of others to help achieve our goals. 

Next month we will focus on the role that luck plays in maximizing your impact as a leader of innovation.


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About the Author

Ann McMullan is an education consultant based in Los Angeles, California who works throughout the United States and internationally as a public speaker, writer, and consultant focused on leadership, professional development and educational technology. Ann is a frequent speaker at state and national education conferences. She serves as Project Director for CoSN’s Empowered Superintendents Program

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