BeALifter Leadership Interview Series #9 with Dr. Gayle Stinson
10 Questions from Leaders that make a difference!
Jim Rohn once said, “Your success in the next 5 years will be determined by the books you read and the people you meet.”
This is a testimony to my personal leadership growth over the past 20 years. I continue to learn each day by connecting with some of the most talented people in business. In this series, I want to add value to your leadership growth by introducing you to leaders that make impact as they share challenges, successes, and perspectives on their journey as a business leader or in their personal life. So let’s get started…
Today, we are going to hear from Dr. Gayle Stinson, Superintendent, Lake Dallas ISD. A native of Lake Dallas and LDISD, Dr. Stinson joined the Falcon Family as Superintendent in 2007. She is a graduate of the University of Texas at Austin and earned a Master’s degree from the Texas A&M system and doctoral degree from Lamar University. Dr. Stinson serves in many local and state roles including Vice-President of the Texas Association of School Administrators. She has been recognized for many achievements including Texas Principal of the Year, and Region XI Superintendent of the Year, as well as a State Finalists for Texas Superintendent of the Year. Dr. Stinson’s leadership has helped create a unique culture at LDISD known for a “small school atmosphere, with big school opportunities”. I have enjoyed getting to know Dr. Stinson and watching the positive impact of her leadership. Even more impressive is how she has engaged the leaders in the community to “be better together”. You are going to really enjoy getting to know Dr. Stinson too.
Now let’s get started…
1, Where did you grow up?
Lake Dallas, Texas – born in Denton County and returned home 10 years ago this year.
2. How did you get started in business/career?
My first degree was a Bachelor of Science in Advertising from the University of Texas at Austin. I worked in an Ad agency for a year and, even though it wasn’t my initial career, I wanted nothing more the entire time than to teach and coach at Lake Dallas High School. That dream came true for me in 1993 and I have been working in education ever since.
3. Do you remember a challenge or life lesson that you had to overcome early in your career which made you a better leader?
I was 27 years old when I was hired as a middle school principal – try being 27, female and new to a community. Within a short amount of time, the staff respected my work ethic and I respected their wisdom and it was a beautiful relationship.
4. What was that moment when you knew that you had found your lane, your purpose?
My very first day of teaching when I mispronounced a student’s name while calling roll…they laughed, I laughed and I knew I was in the right lane. I love kids.
5. What is your most favorite achievement in your current role?
There are several and the most special ones have to do with students accomplishing their goals. I think the one that stands out in my heart the most is seeing a student walking down the street in the middle of the day, picking him up in my car, driving him back to school, staying with him while we walked through his options with his school advisors and then shaking his hand as he stood in his cap/gown at the end of that year.
6. Is there any one person that inspired or mentored you?
My dad. I’ve never met a better listener or mentor. He allows you to talk through an issue and eventually circle around to a solution in which you create – it’s been that way forever. He is the master of teaching you to take ownership not only of your problems, but also of your accomplishments. My mother passed away when I was only 30, so my dad took on the task of ‘raising’ 4 adult girls and walking us through adulthood. He’s a dad, a mom, a mentor all rolled into one. He’s my hero.
7. Do you have a saying or mantra that you live by?
There are two lasting things we can give our students and our own children: one is roots and the other is wings. We help them learn and grow, then loosen the controls and allow them to fly. If I know nothing else, I do know that time is a sacred gift and we must love and enjoy every day.
8. What book are you reading to help grow your leadership right now?
How Great Leaders Think – The Art of Reframing by Bolman and Deal. It’s a book of lively examples of iconic leaders and discusses why some succeed and others fail. The idea is that better thinking leads to better leadership.
9. Can you share any of your daily disciplines that help you stay focused as a leader?
My focus starts early – I rise no later than 5am each morning. It is my time to myself – to frame my day. I know that the next 12-15 hours will be focused on 4,000 students and 600 staff members and that I will not see my own kids until late in the evening, so it is very important to me to have my mind clear and ready for the day. Starting at 6:30am, it’s all about service to others and I’m honored to be a part of it in LDISD.
10. What advice would you give others to help them on their leadership journey?
Be transparent in your journey, remain thoughtful and always keep your character and integrity at the heart of all decisions, keep your tone professional and serve others with compassion.
Thank YOU for sharing your wisdom with us, Dr. Stinson. Some of my takeaways include: It can be lonely starting out as a young female leader. The key is building relationships and learning from each other. It’s okay to make a mistake. When you show vulnerability and take ownership, people will be more accepting. Have the courage to reach out to help others. You may be able to change the trajectory of a person’s life, so keep your eyes open! Having a mentor that will listen and and guide you will help accelerate your professional growth. It’s a bonus when it’s your dad! There are two lasting things you can give a student and our own children: one is roots and the other is wings. Consider adding “How leaders think” to your book list. Investing time to think is effective and can lead to better ideas in any role. Establishing a daily discipline/routine can help frame your day to be most effective. Lastly, serving others with compassion, and being transparent on your journey can make positive impact in any leadership role. Be thoughtful, have integrity, and keep a professional tone when serving others. Great advice!
Bruce Waller, CRP, PHR, SHRM-CP is the Vice President of Armstrong Relocation and Companies in Dallas, Texas. You can connect with Bruce on LinkedIn http://www.linkedin.com/in/brucewaller or follow @brucewaller on Twitter too! You can also follow his BLOG “A Relocation Minute with Bruce Waller” at https://brucewaller.com/ For more information on employee relocation resources, call 972-389-5673, or email email@example.com.