"You talk to most [school] administrators, they know who Todd is," Miller said. "I contacted Todd and said I'd really like to get your thoughts on it. At first, he was sort of like a mentor. [As time passed], he had a lot of input. At one point, I said, 'How would you like to be a co-author?'"
The biggest change didn't affect Miller's theory of leadership. It did affect the day-to-day adventures of his character, the principal.
"When I contacted [Todd Whitaker], his first question was, 'This is great; what do you need?'"
But Miller wasn't looking for a pat on the back; he wanted an education expert he respected to give an honest evaluation.
"He said, 'I think your theory is pretty solid, but if I were to be critical, I'd say you were only telling the story for one group.' He's right. Leadership is leadership. If you're in a management position, I think this book will resonate with you."
After revising parts of the book with feedback from Whitaker, Miller feels like the story could now work for principals or for teachers who manage a class of students — and need to get the best out of those students. Anyone who works with people, Miller said, could benefit from the theories in the book.
"I look back on who influenced my leadership [when I was] in Ottumwa," he said. "Teachers, coaches and administrators who did a good job. They are people who are effective at developing relationship. They demanded excellence, and I wanted to be around them."
Rather than being in an offensive confrontation, young people felt challenged to be the best player or student they could be.