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The Together Leader: Get Organized for Your Success - and Sanity!

ISBN: 978-1-118-98752-0
464 pages
May 2016, Jossey-Bass
The Together Leader: Get Organized for Your Success - and Sanity! (1118987527) cover image


Streamline your workflow and bring your vision to life

The Together Leader is a practical handbook for the busy mission-driven leader. With an emphasis on time management, the book provides all of the tools, templates, and checklists necessary for leaders to stay organized and keep on top their responsibilities. Maia Heyck-Merlin describes step-by-step a set of habits and systems that help leaders to keep everything running smoothly and, most importantly, achieve their mission-driven goals. By learning how to plan for the predictable, leaders can face the unexpected head-on, going off-plan while keeping their eye on the objective. Education leaders will learn how to prioritize quickly and efficiently, and gain access to hands-on tools that take the turbulence out of their days, allowing them to truly become a Together Leader.

Mission-driven leaders are often required to multi-task; it's part of the job. This book gives leaders the tools and information they need to streamline their workflow, to take the day one task at a time without sacrificing productivity. The book includes lessons on how to:

  • Prioritize effectively and work efficiently
  • Get organized and stay prepared no matter what
  • Manage time, staff, and resources
  • Develop the habits of an effective leader

A leader's time is valuable, as is that of their staff. There's no room for waste. The Together Leader prepares leaders to truly lead their teams, with the tools and strategies that make real, effective mission-driven leadership possible.

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Table of Contents

Acknowledgments xiii

Website Resources xvii


Chapter 1: Leading in a Mission-Driven Context 3

What Do You Mean by Mission-DrivenWork? • What Do You Mean by Togetherness, Anyway? • Why Togetherness Matters Even More in Your Context • My Own Togetherness Journey • Why This Book Is Different • How This Book Is Organized • How Each Chapter Is Organized • How to UseThis Book • Notes on Terminology and Methodology • Togetherness Is a Means to an End Togetherness Talks: Shawn Mangar

Chapter 2: Take Stock: Assess Your Togetherness Level 15

Overview and Objectives • Togetherness Levels • The Tools You Need • Reader Quiz: Togetherness Tools • Routines Rule • Mind-Sets Matter (More Than Anything) • Build the Habit • Don’t Go on an Organizational Binge • Let’s Jump In Togetherness Talks: Natalie Rubio


Chapter 3: Set Goals: Define the Direction 29

Seen and Heard • Overview and Objectives • How Do I Set Yearly Goals? • How Do I Set Quantitative Goals? • Create a Time Line for Goal Setting—and Put Someone in Charge • Reviewing Goal Progress • Start Strong See It In Action: Goal Setting Start to Finish

Chapter 4: Break Down the Goals: Create a Priority Plan 63

Seen and Heard • Overview and Objectives • Jen’s Priority Plan • Kari’s Priority Plan • How Big or How Small—AreThese Giant Leaps or Baby Steps? • The Routine • Getting a Team Onboard • My Priority Plan Isn’tWorking for Me • Start Strong See It In Action:Wrist, Elbow, and Shoulder

Chapter 5: Align Your Meetings: Make a Meeting Matrix 95

Seenand Heard • Overview and Objectives • The Model • Build Your Own • The Mechanics of a Regular One-on-One Meeting • Nailing the Content • The Routine • Meeting Follow-Up • A Long-Term View • Start Strong Common Challenge: The Crisis


Chapter 6: Get Macro: Design a Comprehensive Calendar 131

Seenand Heard • Overviewand Objectives • Create Your Comprehensive Calendar • Articulate Your Priorities • Sketch an Ideal Week • Impose the Ideal Week onto Your Digital Calendar • Let’s Get Consolidated • Zoom Out to View a Year • Start Strong Togetherness Talks: Vince Marigna

Chapter 7: Strategic Procrastination: Design a Later List 151

Seenand Heard • Overview and Objectives • The Model • Build Your Own • The Routine • Start Strong Common Challenge: The Calendar and To-Do List Collide

Chapter 8: Reconcile Your Time and To-Dos: Create Your Weekly Plan 177

SeenandHeard • OverviewandObjectives • TheModel • Task-Driven, Time-Driven, or Blended? • Build Your Own • Little Things Make a Difference • Some Other Sneaky Calendar Tricks • But, Maia, What about Things That Just Come Up? • Keep It Alive:The Routine • Start Strong Common Challenge: Too Much to Do!

Chapter 9: Keep It Together: Routines and Checklists 209

Seen and Heard • Overview and Objectives • Weekly Routines: Clean Up and Look Ahead • Ensuring Weird Weeks Don’t Take You by Surprise • Monthly or Quarterly Practices • Other Useful Checklists • Need a Few Trackers? • Start Strong Common Challenge: A New Job

Chapter 10: Hold That Thought: Save It for Later! 231

Seenand Heard • Overview and Objectives • The Model • Build Your Own • The Routine • Start Strong See It in Action: What Should I Carry? Togetherness Talks: Shawn Stover


Chapter 11: Keep E-mail in Its Place 257

Seen and Heard • Overview and Objectives • Conduct an E-mail Audit • Get Your In-box Set Up for Success • Write Clearly and Efficiently • Process Efficiently • Creating Routines:When Do You Check Your E-mail? • Managing Communications as an Organization • Start Strong Common Challenge: E-mail Emergency

Chapter 12: Project Design, Planning, and Communication: More Than Just Spreadsheets! 289

Seen and Heard • Overview and Objectives • Set the Stage • Detour: Don’t Forget to Merge with your Personal Organization System! • Start Strong Togetherness Talks: Erica Phillips

Chapter 13: Become a Dynamic Duo: Maximize Your Assistant 323

Seen and Heard • Overview and Objectives • Evaluate Your Current Relationship • Hire the Right Person • Train Your Assistant Well • Use Your Assistant to Manage More Than Your Scheduling • Leader and Assistant Communication Structures • Start Strong See It in Action: The Management Memo


Chapter 14: Keep Track of Stuff, Space, and Knowledge 367

Seenand Heard • Overview and Objectives • Deal with Your Own Stuff • Make the Most of Shared Office Space • Track the Inventory • Manage the Knowledge • Start Strong Common Challenge: On-the-Go Office

Chapter 15: Create a Culture of Togetherness 393

Seen and Heard • Overview and Objectives • Define Togetherness in Your Organization • Select the Right People • Showcase and Model Togetherness at the Onset • Create an Onboarding Overview • Up and Running: Observe and Coach • How to Observe Togetherness • Maintaining Togetherness in Your Organization • Agreeing on Standard Together Team Tools • Start Strong Togetherness Talks: Stephanie Patton

Chapter 16: Conclusion: Keep It All Together 413

Seen and Heard • Overview and Objectives • Remember theWhy • What to Tackle First • Explaining Yourself to Others • What HappensWhen You Fall Off • Transferring Togetherness to the Home Front • Why the World Needs Together Leaders

Bibliography 421

Index 423

How to Access the Website Resources 439

About the Author 441

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Author Information

MAIA HEYCK-MERLIN is the founder and CEO of The Together Group, a training and consulting practice focused on training school, district, and nonprofit leaders on topics such as time management, prioritization, organization, and efficiency. She is also the author of The Together Teacher.

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Press Release

May 10, 2016
Wiley Announces The Together Leader

The Together Leader is a groundbreaking guide for any leader who needs to better manage their time, their energy, their work, their meetings, their project plans, and their staff. Maia Heyck-Merlin—bestselling author of The Together Teacher—defines the winning time-management habits and offers an array of proven tools and systems for running your everyday work so you can deal with the unexpected when it inevitably arises.

The Together Leader (Publication Date: May 2016; $29.95; Paper; ISBN:  978-1-118-98752-0; Jossey-Bass, a Wiley Brand) is written for mission-driven leaders in settings such as a school, a district, or a nonprofit. As a dedicated leader you care deeply about your work and its impact. Maia Heyck-Merlin reveals the steps to take to make strategic decisions, plan carefully, and execute smoothly in order to meet your objectives. No matter what your leadership role—director of professional development for a school district, fund-raiser for a food bank, or chief financial officer of a housing organization—The Together Leader offers a rigorous and systematic approach to how you get your work done. With Together habits, mind-sets, and tools in hand your outcomes will have more consistent and positive results.

"Maia tells it like it is—leading a school or team requires a level of 'togetherness' and 'with-it-ness' that is just never taught. Her approach has helped hundreds of our team members—they will help you as well."
—Dave Levin, cofounder, KIPP: Knowledge is Power Program

"The Together Leader has helped me maximize my time as a leader. Not only do I have more time dedicated to supporting my team, I've developed the systems necessary to think both short and long term, review critical plans with care, and make better decisions on behalf of my students."
—Jennifer Cheatham, superintendent of schools, Madison Metropolitan School District

"Mission-driven leaders: buy this book before your employees buy it for you! The Together Leader gives me the habits and tools I need to be the focused, present, and productive leader my team deserves."
—Will Gardner, founder and executive director, Alma del Mar Charter School

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