Leadership with Visual Tools

Visual Tools and Thinking Maps for Leadership

Many federal, state, local, and professional organizations have developed standards to guide the licensure, professional development, evaluation, and preparation of school leaders. Below is a correlation showing the relationship between standards associated with school leadership developed by the Interstate School Leaders Licensure Consortium (ISLLC) and the professional learning that is part of the Thinking Maps: A Language for Leadership training and manual.

Thinking Maps: A Language for Leadership supports and advances the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE)/Interstate School Leaders Licensure Consortium (ISLLC) Standards.
Download the Document
The guide format is: Standard -> Function -> Leadership Process

This webpage includes an overview of:

  • Developing Connective Leadership: Successes with Thinking Maps
  • Thinking Maps: A Language for Leadership training and manual
  • Further materials to download
Developing Connective Leadership


If our best thinking comes by making connections and building patterns, then what would these patterns look like, and what might they be based on’–ask the authors. Most importantly, how could they be used?

Developing Connective Leadership shows you how Thinking Maps are an efficient and eloquent language that can be used to explore and reveal ideas, thought processes, and intentions. By creating visual representations of thought, leaders create shared understandings and foster connections among staff.

Explore how schools have used the Thinking Maps process to create strong collaborative bonds and facilitate shared leadership. As staff members collaborate to construct a shared frame of reference, they are empowered to execute and sustain the school’s vision.
Order the Book Developing Connective Leadership


  • Offers real-life experiences from school leaders using Thinking Maps for professional development
  • Identifies eight Thinking Maps used to build connective leadership practices
  • Suggests how Thinking Maps can be used to reformulate and reconstruct negative or damaging frames of reference
  • Discusses how Thinking Maps can energize and inspire insight and solutions

Thinking Maps has always been a part of my practice and yet, reading this book, I learned how much I need to sharpen my practice (and, of course, my thinking). This book is rigorous in its attention to both a solid review of the literature about leadership and a solid set of case studies that support their own research in leadership and the use of thinking maps. It is practical, learned, and inspirational – a good model for thoughtful leadership.
—Bena Kallick, Educational Consultant; Codirector of the Institute for Habits of Mind; Cofounder of Eduplanet, Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania

Developing Connected Leadership provides compelling empirical and theoretical evidence that thinking maps can help leaders ponder and address problems and issues related to teaching and learning and thoughtfully pursue school improvement efforts. The cases and literature included in the book demonstrate that thinking maps enable leaders and others to surface, connect, share and negotiate assumptions, concerns and questions, promoting deeper and sustainable thinking and discourse, and making this book a must read for leaders.
—Giselle O. Martin-Kniep, President, LCI Learner-Centered Initiatives and Communities for Learning, Floral Park, New York

Alper, Williams, and Hyerle have given us a brilliant literary gift: Developing Connective Leadership. Ushering forth their pioneering work in Thinking Maps, they have situated these maps into a connective leadership framework at the interpersonal, collaborative, school, and system levels. Like an expanding universe, these maps provide the cognitive language, patterned processes, and robust skeleton that enable the educative body to act and to succeed sustainably. They remind us that thinking leaders are leading thinkers. I highly recommend this book to all school and district leaders – teachers, students, administrators, and parents – as well as policymakers at the state and national levels.
—Linda Lambert, Professor Emeritus, California State University, East Bay; Author and Consultant, Sea Ranch, California

This well-documented book illuminates how making thinking visible enhances clarity of communication, connects people with ideas and processes into a shared vision, and builds a commitment by all team members to support each other in achieving their desired goals.
—Arthur L. Costa, Professor Emeritus, California State University Sacramento

Order the Book Developing Connective Leadership


Thinking Maps®: A Language for Leadership, Second Edition
  • imCoverLanguageLeadership2SeeThinking Maps training and text for all leaders and leadership teams in a school community for the purpose of deepening a Thinking Maps implementation
  • Provides leaders with strategies for using Thinking Maps to improve communication, data analysis, problem solving and decision-making
District-wide Training Menu

The foundational understanding participants gain in one day of this training allow them to:

  • Understand Thinking Maps and Research Connections
  • Use Thinking Maps for Communication and Collaboration
  • Use Thinking Maps During PLC (PLT) Meetings and for Problem Solving
  • Create an Implementation Plan for Sustaining Thinking Maps at Your School (Ongoing Monitoring and Assessing Using a Rubric)

The differentiated focuses that can be selected on day two of this training include using Thinking Maps to:

  • Problem Solve
  • Facilitate Collaborative Meetings
  • Supervise and Coach (Recruiting, Developing and Retaining Highly Qualified Personnel)
  • Create a Shared Vision and Mission
  • Develop Your Strategic Plan
  • Analyze Data
  • Monitor and Assess a Thinking Maps Implementation

Documents for further reading:
Thinking Maps: A Language for Leadership supports and advances the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE)/Interstate School Leaders Licensure Consortium (ISLLC) Standards.
Download the Document
The guide format is: Standard -> Function -> Leadership Process

From the Training Guide Thinking Maps: A Language for Leadership: The language of Thinking Maps,
with its vocabulary of thinking processes explicitly stated and supported by visual models, is a powerful
tool for engaging people individually and collectively in the essential processes of reflection,
inquiry, and dialogue. Download the page from the training manual

Thinking Maps® Inc. website page on Leadership.

Contact Larry Alper (co-author) for more information on bringing A Language for Leadership to your school and school district.




 Posted by at 5:14 pm