Below is the main article from this months VTHS LEAD Report
which you can download by clicking here.
“It is lonely at the top” is how the old adage goes. However, at Valley Torah we don’t believe that it should be that way for two very important reasons. First, we believe in a “Think Win-Win” philosophy as highlighted by the 4th habit of The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People. Second, we have a strong tradition of Jewish leadership and Torah values that we embrace along with our dynamic application of those values to the world today. These reasons must be transmitted to the recently formed student lighthouse team, whose purpose is to help move The Seven Habits of Highly Effective Teens leadership framework forward, as well the rest of the student body. They must understand that leadership today must not be done in isolation.
The first part of the Seven Habits is focused on the “Private Victory”. Simply put, you can’t help others until you help yourself. You can’t lead unless you can handle leadership. While the habits are not a hierarchy by any means, a leader must have a strong foundation in the “Private Victory” before they can adequately move to the habits that make up the “Public Victory”, the first of which is “Think Win-Win.” When ready, it is this “Public Victory” that ensures we always lead with others and never alone.
According to Dr. Steven Covey, the author of The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, “win-win sees life as a cooperative arena, not a competitive one. Win-win is a frame of mind and heart that constantly seeks mutual benefit in all human interactions. Win-win means agreements or solutions are mutually beneficial and satisfying.” As you seek to lead and accomplish your goals you do not just focus on your own needs, but you also focus on the needs of those you interact with. With others needs in mind you never lead alone. Your goals and theirs become mutually beneficial thus ensuring that you accomplish your goals together. There is nothing lonely about that.
The second idea for our young leaders is the fact that Jewish leadership is never isolated. We have a Mesorah (transmission) of Torah knowledge, Torah philosophies and Jewish leadership that dates back thousands of years. We must utilize this history on a daily basis to affect change. That is not to dismiss those who hold on rigidly to the past without applying the knowledge, philosophies and traditions to the world they live in. They are valiantly trying to preserve the Mesorah. Yet, they are missing the critical other side of the same coin. Leadership must be bolstered by the leaders of the past, but requires forward momentum propelled by the current leaders themselves.
At Valley Torah, we are fortunate to have a Rosh HaYeshiva/Head of School that has been at the helm for over thirty years. We are also fortunate that he was a student of the great Rosh HaYeshiva of Yeshiva Chofetz Chaim, Rabbi Henach Leibowitz, Z’L. I often discuss my leadership thoughts and decisions with Rabbi Stulberger. I am confident that when I do I am getting a response that is not only rooted in the Daas Torah (Knowledge of Torah) of his Rebbe, but is also based on his thirty years of experience leading Valley Torah. Therefore, I am confident it is appropriate for the school as it is today. In fact, Rabbi Leibowitz, Z’L points out this important lesson in the book “Majesty of Man” that I received when I graduated Valley Torah, which was written by our very own Rabbi Aryeh Striks and Rabbi Shimon Zehnwirth.
The Rosh HaYeshiva, Z’L in his speech about Parshas Ki Sisa said that “we cannot neglect the thoughts and advice of the Torah leaders of our generation to follow our understanding of the actions of a previous Torah scholar. As man and his world change with the passage of time, the Torah must be dynamically defined by contemporary Torah scholars to fit each situation as it arises. They will draw on the teachings of their rebbeim, the preceding generation.” The Rosh HaYeshiva, Z’L clearly saw the importance of learning from previous leaders while forging forward to address the changing world, a value that Rabbi Stulberger clearly shares.
When I lead as General Studies Principal at Valley Torah, I am not alone as I have the knowledge and support of my rebbe, Rabbi Stulberger, who has the knowledge of his rebbe, Rabbi Leibowitz, Z’L. It is this bridge from generation to generation with its application to the world the current generation exists in that ensures great leadership. If we only care about the bridge and not the dynamic application to the current state of affairs we miss a significant aspect of good leadership. We risk promoting a style of leadership that will be very lonely. This is not the Seven Habits way nor the Torah way. It should never be lonely at the top.