Be Excellent On Purpose: Intentional Strategies for Impactful Leadership by Sanée Bell

Sanée Bell Cover

Be Excellent On Purpose: Intentional Strategies for Impactful Leadership by Sanée Bell shares her experience and vision as a school leader. As someone who has taught leadership for aspiring principals, I find her advice to be totally on the money. This would be an excellent book for any school leadership course. It’s also good reading for teachers who don’t aspire to the principalship, but who nonetheless lead in their own way.


  • To be excellent on purpose you need to be intentional with your time, intentional with the company you keep, and intentional about where you focus your thinking and energy. This will allow you to set a standard for success and do what it takes to close the gap between where you are and what you are striving to become. Excellence is a journey that requires effort and energy. You will see barriers as obstacles that you can overcome. This book is designed to help you develop habits that will help you lead with excellence.

1. Own Your Excellence

  • As a young girl, Sanée had a vision that she wanted to compete with the boys in her neighborhood. She was clear and intentional about what she wanted to accomplish and built the steps needed to get there. Her vision was the roadmap to the end. It was her strategy for success. Later she was able to generalize her playground success to the rest of her life.
  • Start by thinking about what you want to achieve. Then identify the action steps you need to take. Identify the barriers and develop a plan to eliminate them. As you move forward monitor your progress. As you develop your vision be sure you know why. This is where you will summon your motivation. Your why is what gives your vision meaning and purpose. With your why firmly in place you next have to address how you are going to accomplish your goals. Along the way be honest with others and yourself. As you venture into the unknown try to develop a level of comfort with it and with your own vulnerability. Celebrate your accomplishments rather than feeling like an imposter.
  • Simon Sinek
    Sanée was inspired by Simon Sinek’s TED Talk How Great Leaders Inspire Action. Give it a look.

2. Understand the Power of Words and Actions

  • Sanée’s mantra is “lead with purpose, intention, and excellence. Be excellent on purpose and strive for excellence in all we do.” Success is a result of intentional planning and hard work. Know that everything you do matters and that everyone is watching. Focus on what you can control. While culture work belongs to the group, the leader has the biggest responsibility. Your words need to match your actions. Work to get a commitment to continuous improvement. Ask “where can we continue to grow and improve?” Striving for excellence does not involve making excuses.
  • Start with a focus on what’s strong rather than what’s wrong. Once you do this you can figure out how to make not-so-great areas better. It’s important to determine why what’s working is successful. Then it’s on to finding out why some things aren’t working well. You can give pep talks focused on your mission. Point out obstacles you overcame. Celebrate this achievement with the group and identify the challenges ahead. Speak from the heart and use emotion to inspire the group.

3. Expand Your Connections

  • It is important that leaders use their abilities to connect. They need to broaden their network to include leaders outside of education and leaders around the world. This can greatly expand one’s learning. Think of it as your professional development network (PDL). This will also expose you to new opportunities. Look for people who push your thinking, not just people who always agree. Look for opportunities to meet people at conferences who you follow online.
  • As you expand your virtual support team, be sure to prioritize local face-to-face connections. Sanée suggests that you schedule regular get-togethers with people who can support your work as you support theirs. You also need to manage by walking around. As you do so, check in with the people you lead. Be sure to ask “how are you doing” and as they say “I’m doing fine,” watch their body language to see if it sends the same message or a different one. Ask questions like why and don’t tell them how you solved their problems. Take time to be alone to think and write. Be sure to share what you write, which is easy today thanks to blogs like mine where you can guest post.
Share this:
Share this page via Email Share this page via Stumble Upon Share this page via Digg this Share this page via Facebook Share this page via Twitter Share this page via Google Plus     If you like the summary, buy the book
Pages: 1 2 3