School Business Affairs October 2020 SCHOOL BUSINESS AFFAIRS | OCTOBER 2020 9 that their behavior and tactics are out of sync with their values—can be viewed as liars, narcissistic, weak, and inept, and as using positional authority to lead. They are the ones who say, “I am the boss; you must do as I say.” This top-down authoritative leadership no longer works in most organizations today. In The Unlearning Leader: Leading for Tomorrow’s Schools Today , Illinois superintendents Michael Lubel- feld and Nick Polyak assert that school leaders need to unlearn the leadership styles prevalent in the past cen- tury to be able to create the schools of today that will educate the leaders of tomorrow. For many, this concept may be radical—it shouldn’t be. Consider the soft skills required of today’s leaders, the evolution of leadership, and followers’ responses. At the beginning of the 2016 season, Chicago Cubs coach Joe Maddon designated the team rallying cry, “Try not to suck”—a far different coaching methodology than the coach who threw a chair at a player for not per- forming well. The Cubs responded by winning the 2016 World Series. During the 1990s, Coach Phil Jackson led the Chicago Bulls to six NBA championships, managing personali- ties like Dennis Rodman and getting a superstar like Michael Jordan to understand that basketball is a team sport, that the key is to get the ball to the player with the best shot. In that final sixth championship season, Jackson— coaching under enormous pressure from the top—put that pressure aside and led the team with the rallying cry “The last dance.” Exceptional leaders forgo ego; they nurture their team and emerge successfully from dysfunctional circum- stances. The dysfunctional circumstances may continue to exist, but leaders move beyond them. Social Awareness During the COVID-19 pandemic, education leaders may feel that the odds are stacked against them; no matter their decision about reopening schools, someone will protest it. Community reactions change by zip code, by income status, and by race. Almost overnight, we have all became more socially aware than ever before. Protests around the world have helped the majority understand the perspective of the segregated and once-enslaved minority. Social unrest erupted into a national discourse about racial inequality at the forefront. Social awareness—one of the building blocks of emo- tional intelligence—is about perspective, putting yourself in the shoes of others. Combining active listening skills with a focus on perspective helps leaders understand other points of view and adds meaning to their pool of knowledge. Socially aware educators can provide the leadership that shapes children and the future. Relationship Management Leaders influence others through relationships. Relation- ship management—another building block of emotional intelligence—requires good interpersonal communica- tion skills. In our hectic lives, in our rush to get to the work on our desk, we often walk right by our coworkers, forgo- ing small but meaningful acts, such as inquiring about a coworker’s family or pet. Taking a minute or two for a friendly non-work-related chat pays dividends and is an important aspect of relationship management. Managing relationships also includes listening to and respecting others. The craft of improvisational comedy teaches a concept called “yes, and. . . .” Saying “yes, and” instead of “no” allows a concept or issue to evolve Change the narrative of the pandemic. Step up, innovate, influence, lead.