There are plenty of articles both in the scholarly literature and in the commentary magazines that state that effective leadership is the foundation for improving school performance. While there are key leadership styles (eg transformation, servant, autocratic, laissez-faire, bureaucratic, collaborative, charismatic, situational, democratic) I like to focus on the behavioural aspect.
There is no doubt that the effective leader must contextualise their approach to the school. In one context the leader needs a leadership style to enable staff, yet in another setting they might need to be transformational and motivate people.
Regardless of your particular leadership style, for me there are four key aspects that any leader must posses. These leadership traits are uniquely intertwined into the core essence of the effective leader. In short they are:
- The Art of Decision Making: It is a given that school leaders need to be able to make decisions. But to make an effective decision is not always as straight forward as it seems. The leader needs to have a clear process to gather relevant information and then, after careful analysis, decide on the best way forward.
- The Art of Being Results Focused: Some leaders coast into a position and then go about managing a steady ship. These leaders are often called the “care taker leader” or the “close to retirement leader”. However, the effective leader continually focuses on achieving results. They target strategies to achieve their objectives and regularly monitor their effectiveness. Analyzing and reflecting on school data helps to keep an effective leader on task.
- The Art of Pursuing Alternative Viewpoints: Have you witnessed the leader who asks for your viewpoint repeatedly only to dismiss and take their own advice? This shallow form of collaboration limits the richness of the knowledge and expertise of others.
- The Art of Caring: The effective leader is genuinely interested in the lives of their staff. They know their staff and build a sense of trust through actively looking for ways to enhance their well being.
Notwithstanding the many roles and functions the school leader undertakes, if you excel in these four key facets you will enjoy a successful leadership career.