Books & Projects

Future Projects:

Leadership of the Third Kind

An Upcoming, Academic Textbook

By Ryan Donlan and Steve Gruenert, or By Steve Gruenert and Ryan Donlan

(We haven’t figured-it-out yet)

In discovering Leadership of the Third Kind, we were continually reminded of what it IS, by comparing our new discovery to what it is not.

It is not leadership of the first kind.

In that depiction of leadership, a developmental continuum, or a progression, exists from lower forms of employee and organizational supervision, beginning at the level of team leader, then upward through the notion of management, and then finally to an enlightened form of management termed leadership. Some have even contended, “Managers do things right; leaders do the right things.” The business and educational communities are replete with apologies for management in leadership’s first kind, suggesting to school principals as one example that they should no longer be building managers. They should instead become instructional leaders so that they can uplift student achievement. These theories are rich in irony and paradox. In leadership of the first kind, the organization has a ceiling on its change potential, that of REFORM.

It is not leadership of the second kind.

In this depiction of leadership, a developmental continuum, or progression, no longer exists. Leaders and managers are seen as equally important to an organization’s mission. They simply have different frames of reference. Managers have, for the most part, the important responsibility of taking care of that which is “inside” the organization; leadership, I most cases, has the equally important responsibility of taking care of that which is “outside” the organization. Managers at most times have an inward focus, and leaders, an outward focus. There is no hierarchy. In leadership of the second kind, the organization has a ceiling on its change potential, that of REDESIGN.

It IS Leadership of the Third Kind.

Leadership of the Third Kind is more interested in things more innocuous and disparate. A leader’s role is that of discoverer, or pioneer, one that attempts to discern the underlying forces that have invited leadership of the first and second kind to exist in the first place. Leadership of the Third Kind learns to ply its trade by studying examples of environmental phenomena, both physical and even metaphysical, to discern levers, or portals, through which to make decisions and influence others. It looks for footprints to guide its playbook, even the ones that humans leave without necessarily stepping. Leadership of the third kind’s best friend is one’s ability to think, and its second best, one’s time to do it. In leadership of the third kind, the organization is able to begin the process of REIMAGINATION.

We envision this project as possibly a textbook for the scholar/practitioner, who wants to take his/her thinking to a different place.

Your thoughts, unleashed?


Current Projects:

The Hero Maker, by Todd Whitaker and Ryan Donlan

Every school board member wants to be a hero.

Board members who run for school board with specific goals in mind, feel they will be heroes if they can get these done. Child-focused board members who only want to do what is best for the students and community know they will be viewed as heroes – even if it is just internally – by doing the right things.

The challenge that superintendents face is as follows: “How can they help every school board member do the right thing AND concurrently feel this same heroic reward?”

This book is designed to provide specific understanding and guidance on how to work with every board member, and especially the most challenging ones, so that the important work of education can be done.

Everyone wants to be a hero. Every great leader must be a hero maker.


Completed Projects:

Click the Book cover to view the Book Flier!

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Minds Unleashed - How Principals can Lead the Right-Brained Way
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Gamesmanship for Teachers - Uncommon Sense is Half the Work

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The Secret Soluton - How One Principal Discovered the Path to Success



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School Culture - How to Define, Assess, and Transform It