When we think of effective school leadership, many of us immediately conjure up an image of the rebels we find on the silver screen: ego-driven lone stars who ride in on white horses, rack up bodies, and do it all on their own.
Effective school leadership, however, has little to do with flamboyance, charisma or a larger-than-life ego.
We agree with Dr. Robert D. Ramsey’s assertions about authentic leaders: They “give others credit while channeling their personal ambition into achieving a collective success. They are doggedly determined, realistic (willing to face hard facts), and terminally optimistic about the certainty of ultimate triumph.”
We’ve been reading Ramsey’s book, School Leadership from A to Z and would like to share 10 of the author’s qualities of effective school leadership.
10 Qualities of Effective School Leadership
An effective school leader:
Has a “can-do” attitude: Confidence gives you courage and extends your reach. It allows you to take reasonable risks and do more than you thought possible.
Faces reality and expects others to do the same: Effective leaders don’t kid themselves. They deal with things the way they really are, not just the way they wish they were. This attitude gives others permission to get real and deny denial as well.
Demonstrates faith in people: Without an attitude of trust, a principal or superintendent can be little more than a policeman constantly on the lookout for violators.
Holds a positive view of the future: Effective leaders are stubborn in their commitment to hope. Their realism keeps them from having a Pollyanna attitude, but they steadfastly believe that all obstacles can and will be overcome in the end.
Shows an open attitude toward change: Effective leaders are willing to shake things up, raise the roof, and—if necessary—turn the organization upside down to get desired results.
Values honesty: Effective leaders are authentic leaders. Anything less doesn’t work because students, teachers, parents, and school-board members have a built-in radar for detecting phonies.
Reflects an attitude of unselfishness: You can’t be your best as a school leader until you learn to “de-center” yourself—accept that you are not the center of the universe, or even of your own school.
Makes it clear that giving up is not an option: Winston Churchill’s “We’ll never quit” attitude embodies an attitude that saved an entire nation in wartime. Just think what it can do for your school.
Shows a willingness to accept conflict as a part of doing business in a public institution: Real leaders don’t back down from necessary confrontation and aren’t afraid of a fight when it truly matters.
Is passionate about the work and not afraid to show it: More than anything else, strong emotion—a passion that won’t let up—separates peak performers from the others. It’s true in all organizations and especially true in schools.
Photo credit: Photosteve101