The Talent Landscape

Chris Hornsby

Coaching Call Info

December 9, 2022, 11:00 am EST

Finding the right leader can transform a school. Yet, finding the right leader is not easy at all. The number of qualified Heads and other executive level administrators is shockingly low. What happens when, not if, your school comes in need of top leadership at your school? Even though leadership changes and transitions are inevitable, many schools are unprepared to lose any of their key administrators. Eric Cook, SCL President, will be joined by Mr. Chris Hornsby, partner with Carter Baldwin Executive Search, to discuss how schools can position themselves to attract and retain the very best talent. Eric and Chris will also discuss the need for leadership development and succession. 

About our Speaker

Chris Hornsby, Carter Baldwin Executive Search

Chris leads Carter Baldwin’s faith-based K-12 education practice, where he conducts Superintendent, Head of School, and President searches for independent Christian schools, both traditional and Classical, educational ministries of churches, and university-model Christian schools. He has developed a broad network of professionals and gained a deep understanding of the unique challenges and opportunities their organizations face. With this industry insight, Chris is able to ask the right questions, identify the right candidates, and provide the right counsel to clients through all phases of a leadership transition.

Not So Fast

Prudence and patience are inseparable. This is not good news for people like me, but it is true. Here are a few reasons why these virtues are inextricably linked:

  • Prudence is doing the right thing at the right time for the right reason. Timing and telos matter. It takes a remarkable amount of restraint and self-control to let a weighty decision come to you as a leader without scurrying rushedly towards an outcome. And yet, that is the one thing we want to do!
  • Josef Pieper says that “prudence includes above all, the ability to be still in order to attain objective perception of reality.” Practicing thoughtful deliberation and giving due consideration to the issue at hand – being still – requires patience.
  • Virtually every vice Solomon contrasts to prudence in Proverbs is linked to impatience: impulsivity, hastiness, vengeance, etc. We are far more inclined to act foolishly when we are operating on a false deadline and an amplified emotion.
  • Prudence and patience, biblically, are both acquired by a careful consideration of creation (Psalm 1). This may seem odd, but as William Dyrness points out, we “are born into a world and a narrative” that we “did not begin and we will not complete.” Adjusting our lives to this reality is “a condition of maturity.”
  • All of these points mean that our perception – what we see when we face complex decisions and situations – is a function of our heart and character. We must constantly be reorienting ourselves to the truth of things and make our decisions accordingly. I think this is what Paul is saying in Romans 12:12, “Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer.” 

Hope and prayer will recalibrate our perspective and give us patience. Good decisions will follow.

The Prudent Leader

This past weekend at the SCL Arete Retreat, our time together focused on prudent leadership. As leaders, being skilled and knowledgeable will only get you so far. The heart of leadership is being able to exercise thoughtful judgment in ambiguous, complex situations. However, the temptation for leaders is to minimize complexity by taking shortcuts, imposing rules or policies, or approaching issues in a reductionistic way. We would often rather hack our way to a solution rather than do the work that prudence requires.

The art of practical wisdom (prudence or phronesis), is doing the right thing in the right way for the right reason. A phronetic approach to leading and living gives full weight to the ethical tensions, past experiences, emotions, intuition, context, and relational dynamics at play in any given scenario. Prudent leaders do not apply overly rationalistic analyses to problems that are not conducive to formulaic solutions. 

The best leaders have what Kahneman calls a “heuristic gift” – the ability to first intuitively assess a situation and immediately discern the most salient issues involved. They can then imaginatively deliberate and find a path that is wise and prudent. In fact, some researchers argue the ability to synthesize Level 1 (intuitive, “fast”) with Level 2 (deliberative, “slow”) thinking is what comprises the essence of emotional intelligence.

Aristotle said, “Virtue makes us aim at the right mark, and practical wisdom makes us take the right means.” Prudent leaders are more like jazz musicians and less like brick layers. They know what they are aiming for, have the requisite skills to play the technical elements they encounter, but more importantly, they possess the sensibilities to adapt to a dynamic environment. This is prudent leadership.