Hard-nosed and heartwarming stories

Hillary Gaddis
  • Hillary Gaddis

What are you reading?

“I just re-read a book: The Five Dysfunctions of a Team: A Leadership Fable, by Patrick Lencioni. He’s actually from Bakersfield, where I’m from. I found that out after I read it.

Tell me about it.

“It’s about a technology company up in the Bay Area. You have these young business execs who have the best product, but they’re being outperformed by their competitors because they’re not functioning well as a team. There’s a lack of trust, a lack of accountability, and an inattention to results, because of their differences in personality and different work styles. The CEO is fired, and this new CEO is brought in, Katherine. She has a formula for the five dysfunctions of a team: what they are, what are their foundations, and what’s on the other side. What it looks like to have a team that’s working well together. So she exposes their dysfunctions, breaks them down, and then builds them back up.”

Give me an example.

“The first dysfunction is a lack of trust. One part of the book is the fable, and one part is giving you tools for recognizing and addressing the dysfunction. ‘These are the ways it might show up, and these are some of the ways you can develop trust.’ Shared experience is a lot of it, developing commonality. I’ve applied that in my own professional life to my team of teachers. I know I need to start with a foundation of trust.”

What else are you reading?

“Well, I work with kids, so I read a lot of books for young readers, just to keep up with what students are reading so I can talk with them about books and literature. I think that the literature that is out there for young readers is the best literature out there. One of my favorite books is Walk Two Moons, by Sharon Creech. It’s about a girl of Indian descent. What she tells you is that her mother has left her and she and her father are going to move to a new place. She’s trying to find her way in this new place without her mother. A lot of things happen on the journey, and then, eventually, she brings you around full circle to what has happened.”

What do you like about books you like?

“Very, very heartwarming stories. Characters who you grow to love right away. I’m always looking for a character I care about. I love Tuck Everlasting, by Natalie Babbitt. When I was in high school, I had to read The Great Gatsby, and I hated it. I didn’t care about any of the characters. They were all terrible, horrible people.”

What book was most life-changing for you?

“The Secret Life of Bees, by Sue Monk Kidd. I read it at a time in my life when I was looking for connection. I had just moved to Minnesota, away from my family, for a job in theater. I was there for a year, and in that year, I read a lot, but that was the first thing I read. I picked it up and I really found the connection. It kind of filled the place of missing home. It’s about a little girl who runs away from home and catches up with these four women who foster bees. She has a mother who has just died, and they become her mothers. I remember finishing it and just crying, because I was going to miss the characters so much. It’s one of those things where it was so good, but now it’s over. I wished it would never end.”

Hillary Gaddis

Age: 32

Occupation: Site Coordinator, Julian Charter School Innovation Center

Neighborhood: Poway

Where interviewed: Julian Charter School Innovation Center

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