Jon Mertz Applies Design Thinking to Leadership at Manhattanville Symposium

November 14, 2017

A variety of motivations brought school administrators, graduate students, educational consultants as well as entrepreneurs to the Fall Leadership Symposium offered by Putnam | Northern Westchester BOCES in partnership with Manhattanville College’s School of Education.
“I want to prepare students for their future, not my past,” voiced a public-school leader. “I make to-do lists, but don’t even look at them because I’m derailed by daily management tasks,” said an administrator in higher education. “I am new to administration and my superintendent recommended I attend,” contributed a director of technology.
Speaker Jon Mertz, recognized as one of the Top 100 Thought Leaders in Trustworthy Business and one of the Leaders to Watch in 2015 by the American Management Association, used the participants’ reflections as a starting point for a rich discussion named Discontentment: The Leadership Challenge. He was introduced by Dr. Shelley Wepner, Dean of Manhattanville’s School of Education.
Mertz applied the design thinking process of ask, imagine, plan, create, and improve to the concept of leadership, making the point that a leadership style is meant to evolve. “We need to keep incorporating our experiences, adopting and learning as we grow,” said Mertz.

The Fall Leadership Symposium is one of two annual conversations hosted by the Center for Educational Leadership, a program of Putnam | Northern Westchester BOCES in partnership with Manhattanville College’s School of Education. They are held at Manhattanville’s Reid Castle.
Mertz presented a wide range of leadership styles that work, ranging from that of Jeff Bezos, founder of Amazon, to Marley Dias, the eleven-year-old who launched a campaign called #1000BlackGirlBooks. He guided participants to share their leadership stories within small groups. Mertz also reviewed several surprising case studies with key lessons for leaders, including the Chicago Public Library’s insightful way of dealing with opioid overdoses and Robert W. Coleman School’s unusual way to get students to focus on controlling their emotions.
Throughout, Mertz reminded participants of the very human nature of their work as leaders. His words resonated.
“Celebrate the wins. Take a moment to say ‘thanks, we did it.’ If you’re not hearing laughter in an organization, something’s probably off,” said Mertz