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Guest Thinkers

How I think about school leadership

Christian, I don’t know if this is what you had in mind when you tagged me for the leadership meme, but here goes…

I believe that effective school leaders can energize and motivate staff to accomplish great things. Effective leaders not only facilitate the creation and ongoing maintenance of shared organizational vision and mission statements, they also ensure that those statements are living documents that stimulate consensual action toward shared goals. The most effective leaders are those that are enthusiastic, dynamic, and have the ability to effectuate organizational change through shared trust, clear direction, and tangible outcomes.

I believe that effective school leaders are able to successfully handle complexity. Effective leaders take a systems-level view and recognize when to utilize structural, human resource, political, and/or symbolic approaches to challenges and opportunities. The most effective leaders are those that are comfortable dealing with the ambiguity, conflicting visions, and disparate ideologies that accompany the practice of K-12 schooling.

I believe that effective school leaders are data-driven. Effective leaders ensure that all members of the organization have access to good “information flow” that lets them know what is working (and what is not) in their educational practice. Effective school leaders implement the necessary technologies, professional development, and other support systems to facilitate data-driven school reform and help staff understand the importance and potency of always striving for continual improvement in all aspects of professional practice.

I believe that effective school leaders are responsive to the demands of the new millennium. Effective leaders understand the power, potential, and challenges of digital technologies, globalization, and our increasingly diverse population and are able to help their school organizations navigate the revolutionary changes necessary to survive and thrive in our new knowledge- and information-based society.

I believe that effective school leaders can reside at any level of a school organization. Although individuals in formal principal and superintendent leadership roles often have positional and role authority, some of our best leaders are those in informal leadership positions: teachers, media specialists, technology coordinators, and the like. The most effective leaders are those that believe in principles of distributed leadership and have the ability to empower and enable other individuals to do excellent work.

I believe that effective school leaders are, at all times and in all ways, oriented first and foremost toward the needs of students.


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