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I hope reading

7 Questions with Alex van Donkersgoed

helps you in your leadership.

 

Cheers,

Jonno White

7 Questions with Alex van Donkersgoed

Name: Alex van Donkersgoed

Current title: Executive Director and Principal

Current organisation: Nimbus Christian Education

A son and grandson of married Christian school teachers I married a Christian school teacher and became one too. But on the way I realized that my children don't fit into the traditional model of schooling. For that matter, no one's children do. And so I find myself still in the classroom but also leading a new kind of school.

1. What have you found most challenging as a leader in the education sector?

The fact that so much of what we think of as education is tied up in the model of a bricks and mortar school in which all students do the same thing at the same time with students that were born in the same year as they are.

2. How do you structure your work days from waking up to going to sleep?

I get up early so that I can put in at least 2 hours of work before anyone else is awake. I have also learned to make extensive use of a calendar in order to schedule everything, including relaxation time. I have also been learning that I have to walk away from my computer by 5pm to unwind. In addition I disable my email accounts at noon on Saturday and do not look at them until Sunday morning.

3. What's the most recent significant leadership lesson you've learned?

Get people on your team who are smarter than you are. If you are the smartest person in the room as a leader, then you have a problem.

4. What's one book that has had a profound impact on your leadership so far? Can you please briefly tell the story of how that book impacted your leadership?

There are so many that it is difficult to choose. (From Good to Great, The Innovator's Dilemma, Canoeing the Mountains, anything by Seth Godin.) But in the end it's the Bible. When I look at the life Jesus led and the example he sets for us to follow it drives how I strive to be as a leader each day, and even though I fall short time and time again it gives me hope for the future.

5. How do you find and keep great leaders in the education sector?

Give them wings. When you find them, give them the freedom to explore, build, and grow.

6. What's most important as a leader in the education sector for developing a culture of wellbeing in your staff and students?

Walk in their shoes. Do whatever it takes to make sure you understand their story. Only when you know their story can you understand what they need.

7. What is one meaningful story that comes to mind from your time as a leader in the education sector so far?

For the last ten years we have been working with a course developer that we helped hire. He's been working with us and one of our partners on many small part time projects over those years. This past week I just found out that our partner has hired this developer full time. He is getting to live out his passion and we have been able to help make that happen.