The Great Engagement with Tom Willis

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Tom Willis believes we are all born with unlimited potential. As a former classroom teacher, he also believes in the power of lifelong learning.  These beliefs have shaped his primary goal in life: helping others move beyond their self-limiting beliefs so they can reach their God-given potential.  
Prior to co-founding Phoenix Partners, he had the great honor of serving as the CEO for Cornerstone, a school system in Detroit.  He was fortunate to earn an engineering degree from the University of Michigan and an MBA from the University of Notre Dame.  
He thanks God every day for his amazing wife and three wonderful children.

Show Notes:

In this episode, Tom Willis, co-founder of Phoenix Partners and former CEO of Cornerstone, shares his insights on leadership, employee engagement, and overcoming self-limiting beliefs. Drawing from his extensive experience in education and business, Tom discusses the alarming statistics on employee engagement, the importance of lifelong learning, and the concept of moving beyond resignation. He highlights his new book, 'The Great Engagement,' co-authored with Brad Zimmerman, and explores the critical balance between aspiration and empowerment in fostering a productive organizational culture. Throughout the conversation, Tom emphasizes the importance of leadership's role in cultivating a positive and engaged workforce, offering practical tools and techniques for leaders to apply in their own settings.

00:00 Introduction to Tom Willis
00:49 The Great Engagement Book
01:37 Employee Engagement Statistics
02:11 Challenges of Disengagement
04:01 Leadership and Culture
07:58 Brain Chemistry and Change
16:33 Coaching and Leadership
21:03 Understanding Human Nature in Leadership
22:04 The Formula for Engagement
22:17 Aspiration vs. Inspiration
24:00 Empowerment in Education
24:38 Max Dupree's Leadership Insights
25:25 The Role of Leadership Styles
29:58 Cultural Mindsets in Education
33:48 Transformational Leadership in Personal Life
36:45 The Essence of Servant Leadership
39:58 Final Thoughts and Resources

Check out his book here!

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Who am I?

I’ve been an educator in Massachusetts for 23 years.  I’m finishing my 16th year as a building leader.  I’m a teacher centered Principal and passionate about continuous improvement and the idea that success is not a destination, but a process. I’m active on social media, vlog about continuous improvement on a weekly basis, and wrote a book also called SEEing to Lead as a way to help everyone improve education as a whole by promoting my “just cause”: improving the educational experience for as many people as possible by being purposeful, acting with integrity, and building character. 

SEEing to Lead Extras!

Like the content, want to be a guest, or know someone who would? Reach out to me on Twitter at @DrCSJones

Have you taken the time to order and read my latest book! Seeing to Lead is filled with practical resources and personal stories to help you support, engage, and empower those you lead no matter your position!

Jimmy Casas said, "If you are a leader who is looking to support, engage and empower your staff, then SEEing to Lead, by Dr. Chris Jones, is a book you will want to pick up and read. Dr. Jones reminds us that building capacity and helping others achieve personal success is the key to elevating your organization and leaving a lasting impact."

Get your copy here! Don't forget to leave a rating and review for others. I would appreciate it!

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This show is part of the Be Podcast Network. Our podcasts go beyond education as we know it — in any learning environment, formal or informal — and help you be the change you want to see. Learn more about the network and all our shows at

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The Great Engagement with Tom Willis