Notes from Flat Army by Dan Pontefract @dpontefract

Notes from Flat Army by Dan Pontefract @dpontefract

A very enjoyable read about leadership – with a flair for empowering & building leadership capacity in others (if not “all”) which is a model I have continued to try to support as a principal. As I bog “each day of learning” I particularly appreciate his support for this as a leadership strategy/trait.  My thoughts in bold:

Connected Leader:




I like the concept looking at the stages of being a connected leader: not just ‘doing’ leadership stuff, but mindfully leading as an evolution of using/being certain attributes!

Becoming a connected leader attributes 






These are all much easier said than done. I believe one gets trust by giving it, and often ‘patience’ (aka wait time) helps with all of these attributes. I was in a Profssional Learning Community that (according to our guests) was going off-track. I said “be patient and trust the process” and sure enough we not only got on track but were able to move with even clearer focus. 

Being a connected leader attributes






I like the idea of clowning – especially when so much of education can be very serious (especially at budget time) and this helps remind us that balance is important – and that balance doesn’t mean ‘not doing things’ but at times doing things differently. 

Beyond a connected leader attributes 






So glad to hear Dan under-value micro managing. That is something in. It good at – I can do it if/when it’s needed but I don’t find it works as a coaching style nor as a way to make leaders better. 

Participatory Leadership

Collaborative – a la roundabout at arc de triumph

I hate roundabouts, but. Like Dans metaphor of a circle (descriptive feedback loop) that has people getting on & off at a variety of times and locations. 

Collaborative Leadership

Blends heterarchy with situational hierarchy; 6 Cs







Can’t forget the congratulations part – nor the confirm part….especially when risk-taking and not being certain what the end result will be!

Leadership is no longer like the old days with a ‘sage on the stage’ nor ‘transmissions from an ivory tower’….instead work is learning and learning is the work (Jarche). 
Makes me wonder how I would do in a ‘senior management role’ I’m not good being at my desk too long….
How to be analyzing:

– if it looks good on paper, it might not look good on skin (analyze through empathy)

– Situations are not always as they seem (connect directly)

– Close minded analysis is for those who love hierarchy (open analysis to multiple analysis before acting)

– Doctors don’t normally operate on the spot (analysis takes time – patience matters)

– Analysis is flawed if it’s used flippantly 

– Myopic evaluation of options and opportunities forfeits any chance of success (holistic big picture matters)


Not a one-time thing – a process rather than a simple action. Successful three-stage process (Tichy & Bennis)

– time: the period before, during and after deciding what to do

– Domain: deciding about people, strategy and time of crisis

– Constituencies: the relationships needed to make knowledge decisions 

And a deciding MODEL:

– Area: outline who the decision affects and any potential ramifications

– Ask: consult others as appropriate regarding who should be involved to help decide which way to proceed

– Alternatives: what options present themselves through the deciding process

– Accountable Action: someone holds the ultimate yay or nay; hold them accountable for timely action

A leadership credo from the book:

– I will practice and reward caring sharing and daring – caring for others, sharing what I know and daring to try new ideas

– I will insist on trust, truth and transparency in all dealings – earning and respecting the trust of others, communicating truthfully and openly and demonstrating and expecting accountability 

– I will look for opportunities to help thank and praise others

– I will eliminate criticism, blame and ridicule in all interactions with others
Also “pickles”

Passion for my work, my team, and my field

Integrity in all that I do (t me this is vital)

Communication – open timely thorough and well-crafted

Knowledge of my field, my areas of responsibility and my extended network

Love of my work, my field and my colleagues

Empowerment – allow others to thrive, succeed and advance

Service – serve those who work for me, my colleagues, my company, my field and my extended network 

“Learn at the need of speed” via formal, informal and social learning (3 x 33% not mis-traditional 70-30-10 model that doesn’t hold up) like this especially when contemplating professional development 

Use of tech – from writing the book using five different devices to enabling his children to use tech (mind you, great minds….) and the idea that you can choose to be collaborative via tech or not (but the latter loses out on a LOT)
To me tech remains the greatest differentiation tool. My handwriting was never as neat as most (all) of my classmates, but my typing was just as neat as theirs (proudly still use comic sans in a non-ironic way)
Key collaborative technologies to loop Converse – Content – Context:
Converse: micro-blogging, instant messaging, comments, discussions, email
Content: wikis, video sharing, blogs, webjams, user created
Context: search, personal profiles, badging, ratings, tagging
Aka creating conversation. 

Which reassures me in why I blog each-day-of-learning with som occasional bonus blogs. Allows me to reflect, create content, converse with others and communicate. 

Great book and some great ideas to contemplate around leadership!

About technolandy

Principaling on the Pacific in Powell River BC Pushing 'technologization' in education: blending technology and curriculum seamlessly. Advocate for better understanding of Anxiety in Education (and use of self-regulation) Utilizing ePortfolios & Descriptive Feedback to personalize learning!
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1 Response to Notes from Flat Army by Dan Pontefract @dpontefract

  1. Pingback: Day 135 (of 185) outdoor learning | technolandy: site of Ian Landy

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