Wednesday, March 30, 2011

5 Qualities of Strong Educational Leaders

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Not intended at all to be a definitive list, I share these brief insights.  Feel free to comment and/or add to the list.

Strong educational leaders…

Remember that they are educators

When the day is done, strong educational leaders are still, at their core, educators.  While that may sound obvious, the demands of leadership roles that take one away from the hallways and classrooms can often cloud perspective.  Strong educational leaders remain grounded to the school and its operations as a school.  They make efforts to stay present in the instructional climate of the school.  

Think strategically

Being able to evaluate the present conditions of the school, articulate where school needs to go, set goals and deliverables, and implement a plan to achieve those goals is an important quality for school leaders.  Every decision has implications for future decisions and affects operations.  Having a strategic and systematic way of thinking helps avoid haphazard and superficial decisions from becoming the norm.

Harness the power of symbolism

Strong leaders appreciate and look for opportunities to enhance symbolic leadership.  Providing a context that takes an seemingly ordinary action and transforming that action into a deep, valued message is often a hallmark of quality leadership.

Leave the stress of the job in the office

There are any number of stressors that enter into the lives of those who have accepted the burden and responsibility of leadership.  Strong leaders keep that stress under control an in the office.  Once the leader emerges, she needs to be “on her game” with teachers, students, parents, etc.  Others look the leader to provide an example.  Leaders who demonstrate high stress publically are setting up the entire staff to share in issues that should not, generally, be shared.

Connect individual talents and needs with the school’s goals and mission

This quality is evidence of the leader using the human resource frame.  The human resource frame has often been associated with effective leadership in educational settings.  Making these connections also requires an investment in getting to know the teachers on a deeper level than what is needed to provide purely structural leadership.  These connections should also motivate teachers to do their best work as that work is connected to both organizational and personal needs. 

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