Finding your Marigolds

Spring is a time of renewal, refocus and energizes everyone after a long, cold winter. In schools, spring is also a tremendously busy time as leaders are working hard to finish strong in the current year but also must focus intentionally on topics for the next school year. This year, due to COVID-19, Spring brings even greater renewal and a sense of hope but also the mental and physical exhaustion of supporting staff and trying to move schools forward in a pandemic.

As a way to continually find balance in my life, I enjoy listening, reading and learning from others. One such person is Jennifer Gonzalez and her work with the online site Cult of Pedagogy. She has many wonderful resources and the article Find your Marigolds is one we have used with new teachers every year. We use this in August each year to help our new teachers understand the importance of Surrounding yourself with good people.  That concept, finding good people, resonates with me for leaders as well.  In a year that may be the most challenging, exhausting  and potentially innovative for school leaders, it is even more important to find your Marigolds. I also learned from John Maxwell  in his podcasts in reference to leadership that “you are the average of the 5 people you spend your time with”.  This blog post takes a look at educators who aspire to help grow and influence others how they must find and surround themselves with leaders so they can be their best version of themselves over time and strive for excellence.

When you think of leaders who serve as Marigolds, you may think of mentors or people who help coach others.  The Marigolds focus much of their time/efforts on helping others and recognize that their greatest impact is influencing and developing other leaders. They multiply their impact.  Here are characteristics of Marigolds and how having them in your life can impact your leadership journey.

Qualities of Marigolds

  • Have a Mindset of positivity, leading with vulnerability and continually seeking to improve.
  • Use Reflection as a mechanism to seek feedback from others and thoughtfully examine if their work is producing desired results.
  • Model passion for making a difference through helping others, lead by action more than words and “bring it” every day.
  • Connect with others as they know the only way to truly help someone grow is to build trust and develop strong relationships.
  • Share ideas and opportunities with others as they are not focused on building a resume but rather through their impact they leave a legacy.
  • Humble to recognize they don’t know it all so they remain Hungry to learn and grow.
  • Lead with Character as they listen to others, model integrity in decision making, maintain poise in turbulent times and are self-aware.

How do you find your Marigolds

  • As you learn as a leader (ex. listening to podcasts, on voxer groups, FB, Twitter), who are the other leaders that also have the same purpose?
  • Identify the people who are innovative, making positive change and being the ones to jump in the water first. These are risk takers and ones you can reach out to create a connection.
  • Ask yourself who are the people who are invested in their schools or invested in growing as a leader. These are people who are committed to growth and striving for excellence. They want to make a difference and are likely to help you.

What do you ask or share with a Marigold

  • Be willing to share your vulnerability by admitting areas where you are challenged or struggle and ask how failure has shaped them?
  • What did they do as a leader that helped propel their growth and influence that you should consider?
  • What is their passion or where they spent their time, effort learning?
  • Share your desire to grow and ask them who did they learn from or connect with that you may consider learning from?
  • How do they add value to others so you better understand how to support others?

Working with Marigolds will help you remember

  • You can lead but still ask for help.
  • You can be confident but still have doubt.
  • You can expect excellence but still be empathetic and supportive of others.
  • You can be direct to others but still kind.
  • You can be demanding without being demeaning.
  • You can work with urgency but still be patient.
  • You can be strong and still be vulnerable. 

Why having Marigolds transforms leadership

This will help you identify ways you can add value to others, develop skills and influence your journey by understanding:

  • What can you do for people to help them succeed?
  • What do people need from you  that they may not ask for?
  • What can you become better at that will help you serve others?
  • How will you know if you are helping others?
  • How can you serve others that will inspire them to help others?

This year is unlike no other due to so many external factors and the constant unknowns. Leaders must keep common principles in front of them so they can focus on growth and supporting others.  One of these key principles is connecting to mentors or Marigolds. The areas mentioned above will help leaders navigate through a busy spring and have a positive impact to help their school have a great year.  True leadership occurs by intentional efforts when you work extremely hard to improve your own leadership.  I encourage all leaders to reflect upon who are your Marigolds and how can they learn from them to continue the pursuit of excellence.  This will allow you to focus on spending the right efforts towards the important work of leading others. It is never too late to change or adapt to create something better. We owe that to our students and staff that we serve. Comment below or reach out to me at








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A Husband, Father and Principal with a focus on learning, leading and connecting with others.

An educator for 25 years with 14 of those being a building administrator. I have found that the more I learn form others and their experiences it helps me grow and learn as well. I hope you join our journey as we create learning environments for students and staff that create future success.

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