Name: Michael Lubelfeld
Title: Superintendent of Schools
Organisation: North Shore School District 112
Michael Lubelfeld has served as a public school superintendent in Illinois since 2010. He currently serves as the superintendent of North Shore School District 112 schools in Highland Park and Highwood, IL, north of Chicago.
Lubelfeld has presented on leadership topics around the state, nation, and world, and he is active in leadership development with state and national associations. He co-authored the 2017 book The Unlearning Leader: Leading for Tomorrow’s Schools, the 2018 book Student Voice: From Invisible to Invaluable, and the 2021 book The Unfinished Leader: A School Leadership Framework for Growth & Development.
His latest book, the Unfinished Teacher: Becoming the Next Version of Yourself, is in publication. Mike was awarded the 2021 Administration and Supervision Distinguished Alumni Award from the Loyola University of Chicago School of Education. Mike and his wife Stephanie have two children living in suburban Chicago.
Thank you to the 2,000 leaders who’ve generously done the 7 Questions on Leadership!
I hope Michael's answers will encourage you in your leadership journey. Enjoy!
1. What have you found most challenging as a leader?
Helping others change their minds, unlearn old “truths” and transform practices.
2. How did you become a leader? Can you please briefly tell the story?
Mentors, coaches, guides, others helped me professionally become a leader and courageously take on challenges to help others and make “the world a better place”.
I possibly have had leadership traits, though, as a boy and as a young man, being responsible, focusing on results, and taking charge of situations.
3. How do you structure your work days from waking up to going to sleep?
I wake up, I take care of hygiene (teeth, shave, shower, etc.). I eat a light breakfast, chat with my wife and kids, head to the office or to a school.
After completing the day, I head home (I only work about 5 miles from home) and before I put the car into the garage, I make sure I’m off the phone and fully present to enter the house.
Greet my family & dogs, maybe change into casual clothes, eat dinner, watch a TV show with the family, possibly do some work, go to sleep (read, make calls, etc.)
4. What's a recent leadership lesson you've learned for the first time or been reminded of?
A recent leadership lesson I had reinforced is that everyone’s unique, individual perspective matters and it’s incumbent upon me or any leader to create conditions where space is there for others to share and to be heard.
5. 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, really! Aside from my four books, the most impactful is very likely Leadership Challenge by Kouzes & Posner.
We read this as an administrator team and each chapter was divided up into pairs — the main principles - the five broad qualities of exemplary leaders - as derived from the authors’ decades of research are M, Model the Way, I, Inspire a Shared Vision, C, Challenge the Process, E, Enable (or empower) others to Act, and E, Encourage the Heart.
I not only endeavor to implement my own leadership according to these characteristics, I based my first book with Nick Polyak, The Unlearning Leader: Leading Tomorrow’s Schools Today, with MICEE in mind!
6. If you could only give one piece of advice to a young leader, what would you say to them?
7. What is one meaningful story that comes to mind from your time as a leader, so far?
OMG - So many!! I’ve been a superintendent of schools for 14 consecutive years, prior to that I was a district or school level administrator for 12 consecutive years (I taught for five years prior).
A meaningful story that comes to mind involves being exposed to structured interview/selection materials from a human capital management company based on the Big 5 Personality Theory - this changed how I select staff, onboard them, engage with them, coach them, and measure collective organizational impact via their surveys of staff, students, and parents.