LEAD 2023: ‘Becoming The Best Leader I Can Be’


Jodi Goldberg, Head of School at ORT-affiliated King David Victory Park in Johannesburg, South Africa, writes about her experience of attending the World ORT LEAD program in Madrid earlier this month. The annual seminar aims to give outstanding ORT professionals the tools they need to reach their potential and become educational leaders and senior managers.

People from all over the world attend the LEAD program and I felt truly honored to be chosen to join them.

I met the most inspiring people from Mexico, Panama, Bulgaria, Argentina, Israel and many other countries. It was amazing to hear how different Jewish schools around the world operate. But the one thing we all had in common was how close a Jewish community actually is, no matter where you are in the world.

On our first day, we participated in many ice-breaking activities where we got to learn about each other and our schools. From Tuesday through to Thursday, we enjoyed the program run by Christine Young and Graham Dring from the Institute of Education in London. The course aims to deepen our understanding of our roles, improve our ability to lead, support us in planning for our schools, and allow us to be catalysts for change.

“It is not about what you know, it is about what you do.”

We learnt that it is vital to spend 90 percent of one’s time developing one’s strengths. Being self-aware is not only recognizing one’s weaknesses, it is recognizing one’s strengths. We had to take time to reflect on what our leadership strengths are, and we had to relay these strengths to each other. Realizing where we are now, where we want to be and why, and how to get there is a big part of the learning process.

We learnt about different leadership styles and how one style is not better than the next; we need to use different styles in different circumstances. We also learnt about the importance of being organized and realizing the difference between what is urgent and what can wait.

Jodi Goldberg takes part in activities at LEAD with a colleague from Bulgaria

One of my favorite parts of the course was the coaching sessions we took part in. There are four types of conversations: counselling, mentoring, advising and coaching. We had to coach each other and be coached. A successful coach is one who is an active listener and uses effective questioning techniques. I found it quite challenging at first, because while coaching we were being watched by an observer who took notes and then fed back to us. It was difficult yet astounding to discover what went wrong and how to improve oneself in order to be a remarkable coach – someone who people can rely on for help.

Prior to attending the conference, we had to participate in an online questionnaire which subsequently led to a motivational map being drawn up for each of us. It gave me such insight into realizing what motivates me and where I need to grow both personally and professionally. It also clarified how I work with others and how important it is to know and understand the motivations of everyone on my staff and how to use this knowledge to benefit the school.

Another interesting topic we embarked on was how to lead change. It is vital to relate the importance of change before it is implemented. We all are resistant to change – “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”. But the truth is that there are many benefits in bringing about change; as the world is changing, so is the way we teach. I realized that in order for positive change to take place, everyone needs to be on board and I found myself delving into how I, as the school leader, can implement change and bring my staff on board to drive the change together.

At the end of the day, my role is to lead my team to greatness, to educate the children (our future leaders) to the best of our ability, and to keep growing and learning on this journey of leadership, so that everyone benefits.

We only have one life to live to the fullest, one opportunity to seize the day, and one chance to make a difference in the world.

I aim to take everything I have learned to enhance our school’s values of Neshama, Koach, Excellence, Torah and Israel, Community, Creativity and Excellence to ensure we continue to deliver exceptional education which benefits the growth and development of each child, and to keep on leading my phenomenal team to new heights.

At the back of mind, throughout this course, was the hope that I will become the best leader I can be, the best version of myself.

I am so grateful to Rabbi Ricky Seeff (General Director of the South Africa Board of Jewish Education) and the entire ORT team for affording me this life-changing experience. The friendships formed, growth endured, and memories made will forever be embedded in my heart.

Jodi Goldberg receives her certificate after completing the LEAD course