LEADing with Intention

April 15, 2021 • Sarah James

LEADing with Intention

Quality succession planning is crucial to an organization’s success, and Hurst-Euless-Bedford (HEB) ISD is working hard to ensure the success of their district leaders through their leadership succession program.

In a recent HRX article, we reported on the Principal’s Impact on Student Learning. Principals rank second only to teaches when considering impact on student achievement, and the more experience and longer a person remains on the job, the greater the positive effect on not only student learning, but also teacher retention and school climate.

A leadership succession plan allows employers to ensure campus stability and shape the culture of their districts. HEB ISD has developed and is finding success with Leadership Exploration and Development (LEAD) HEB. Recognizing the need for a written and repeatable leadership development program, HEB ISD has been refining LEAD since 2013. After conducting a needs assessment with first-, second-, and third-year administrators, HEB determined what was needed for the curriculum and desired leadership behaviors in their candidates.

Building the cohort

District leadership identified 11 leadership behaviors they believe all leaders should have:

  • Self-reflection and accountability
  • Planning and delegation
  • Customer focus
  • Conflict management and resolution
  • Change agent
  • Communication
  • Situational awareness
  • Personal integrity, ethics, and values
  • Results focus
  • Systems thinking
  • Employee engagement and satisfaction

Additionally, the district identified associated practices with each leadership behavior to ensure a common definition and understanding. These behaviors play a large role in the selection process of the LEAD cohort.

Applicants to the LEAD HEB program are HEB ISD employees in professional positions who have a master’s degree in the area of desired educational leadership or will complete the degree no later than May of the following year. Degree alternatives are acceptable in non-instructional professional positions (i.e., Information Services, Instructional Technology, Auxiliary Services, and Business Operations).

Qualified parties fill out an application which includes a self-evaluation of their leadership behaviors, supervisors give feedback on the employee, and a focused interview is conducted with the Executive Leadership Team (ELT) and district administrators. The screening process is completed with an emphasis on district needs for the upcoming school year. Typically, 15 to 25 candidates are accepted into the program and are ready to lead within the next year.

Growth and relationships

LEAD HEB is a two-year program consisting of three meetings and a skills expo each year, and the curriculum is based on the HEB ISD Leadership Behaviors. Year One focuses on leading self and leading others, including a full day of training with Gallup and sessions on the price of leadership and how to lead with tenacity. Year Two focuses on leading a group and leading an organization, including topics such as workforce performance improvement, Crucial Conversations, and modeling integrity as a leader.

The structure of the meetings as well as the assignment of a mentor from the ELT to each candidate allow not only for the leadership growth of the participants, but also for the building of relationships between current and future district leadership. Meetings feature intentional seating, with each table led by a member of the ELT and participants assigned to sit with a different leader at each meeting. The mentor sessions are steered by pre-selected materials and discussion guides.

Culture and stability

HEB ISD notes that buy-in from the Board and district executive leadership is crucial to the success of LEAD. Additionally, the district requires any leaders hired from outside the district to complete LEAD HEB as an onboarding experience. This requirement ensures that all leaders have been given the same foundation and consistent messaging from the district and expectations are understood.

Hector Martinez, a human resources coordinator with HEB ISD, remarks not only on positive culture in the district but also on the drive to continue to improve and adapt. New leadership appreciate what was done before and take it to the next level.

Mr. Martinez goes on to say, “While educational programs and authentic opportunities to apply leadership potential within employees’ current work settings are important, LEAD HEB offers an opportunity to network and collaborate closely with District leadership while also obtaining knowledge on how to lead within the culture of HEB ISD. So many of our current leaders speak of the knowledge and experience obtained from LEAD HEB.”

More information on the HEB LEAD program can be found on the district’s website, or contact Hector Martinez at hectormartinez@hebisd.edu with any questions.


Sarah James is the communications specialist at TASB HR Services. Send Sarah an email at sarah.james@tasb.org.


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Tagged: Employment, HR, "Professional development", Staffing