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7 Questions on Leadership with David Schroeder

Name: David Schroeder

Title: President/Principal

Organisation: Winnebago Lutheran Academy

I have been privileged to be a Midwestern United States boy at heart for all of my years regardless of where the calling of education has taken me. I received my B.S in Education at Martin Luther College and my M.A. from Central Michigan University, I have passionately served schools from PreK-12 in Reno, Nevada; San Diego, California; as well as Waukesha and Fond du Lac, Wisconsin. I met my wife of 31 years in college and she has been a trusted colleague and companion through this crazy journey. Together we are blessed with three children and three grandchildren. I am inspired by the professionals I am privileged to serve beside daily. They are loving, compassionate, and driven to help the kids succeed despite the challenges and roadblocks. I also draw inspiration from scripture and seek to be a servant leader like my Savior.

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. ~ Philippians 4:8

Thank you to the 2,000 leaders who’ve generously done the 7 Questions on Leadership!

I hope David's answers will encourage you in your leadership journey. Enjoy!


Jonno White

1. What have you found most challenging as a leader?

I have had the privilege to work with several hundred different teaching professionals in my years as a leader. Finding the best places in organizations for these talented professionals to be energized and reach their potential as leaders while not running too hot, or finding themselves underutilized has been the most challenging.

2. How did you become a leader? Can you please briefly tell the story?

The journey to leadership is still ongoing. Most of the men and women that take the mantle of leadership will say that there is so much more to learn and understand how to set vision, motivate people, guide accomplishment, manage failure, and still find time for lunch and family. I was blessed to see a wonderful example of leadership in my father. He led at work, at church, and in our home town; but above all he led at home. When I was in my primary grades his full time job consisted being a telephone lineman. He climbed poles and installed phones. I would go out with him in his van on the weekends when he was on call and watched. 90% of his job was troubleshooting technology issues. By the way, this was 1970's technology. At the time of his retirement from that very same company, some 40 years later, he was the Chief Executive Officer. The company had telephone exchanges in three states and hundreds of employees. He showed me the value of honesty, integrity, and hard work.

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

6am - Wake up/coffee, devotion and prayer time with my wife.

7:00 - Arrive at school. Typical to have roughly 2.5 hours of strategy per week, and a 30 min reconnect per day. First day of the week this will take me all the way to the time next time slot. There will be 1 hour meetings twice per week in this slot. In the remaining days, I will use this time for email/phone messages and connecting with my admin team specifically my VP.

9:30 - Chapel Worship

10:00 - Class Prep/Correcting/Planning

11:30 - Class Teaching

12:30 - Lunch (may go longer if a meeting is scheduled). Admin will meet in this slot one day per week. 1.5 hours.

2:00 - Afternoon strategy and reactive session with VP. Email/phone.

3:00 - Connect with students, visit extra curricular practices, talk to teachers/coaches.

4:00 - Workout (typically 1mi swim and steam)

5:30 - Family Dinner and recreation

7:00 - Final email/phone review, high priority items to prep for the next day, professional reading/podcast view or listen.

9:30 - Quiet time with wife - perhaps one episode of a show we are watching together.

10:30 - Sleep

4. What's a recent leadership lesson you've learned for the first time or been reminded of?

I am reminded daily of the importance of failure. I am also reminded daily of the importance of setting goals and stretching yourself.

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?

Sorry, I am going to give two: Extreme Ownership by Willink and Babin and Leadership and Self Deception by the Arbinger Institute. Both books emphasize the importance of honest leadership. I cannot tell you how many times I have watched individuals surge in leadership only to be exposed as frauds. Be honest, be present, be reliable, be disciplined.

6. If you could only give one piece of advice to a young leader, what would you say to them?

Believe in yourself, believe in your team, strive for excellence and do not be afraid to fail. Own your mistakes to those you lead, and ask them the help. Cultivate independent followers. Don't just be a leader, understand and be a faithful follower as well.

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

There are so many stories, but some of my most treasured relationships are with those that I have served closely beside. We have learned together, celebrated together, cried together, and most importantly laughed together. Leadership is not singular but rather is strengthened when you are able to share in the responsibility and achievement. If you are unable to mentor new leaders you are not a leader at all. May God continue to bless all of your leadership journeys.

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