Leaders matter. The larger and more important the goal, the more districts administrators, principals, and teacher leaders matter. And because contemporary schools are faced with the very large goal of ensuring the success of all students in a rapidly evolving world, skillful school leadership matters now more than ever.
Our beliefs have a profound affect on our daily leadership practices, often in ways that are invisible to us. At the core of Leading for Results is a set of assumptions (what I hold to be true, “my truth” not “the Truth”) about school leadership, which I offer to you to stimulate your thinking about your own beliefs about leadership:
• What leaders believe, understand, say, and do on a consistent basis matters. Our circle of influence is usually larger than we fully understand.
• Leaders change themselves first. If we do what we’ve always done, we’ll get what we’ve always gotten, an old saying reminds us. While it’s human to view others as the source of problems and underplay our role in their perpetuation, failure to examine and address our own beliefs, understandings, actions, and habits all but guarantees the perpetuation of the status quo.
• Leaders’ emotions are contagious. Our emotional well-being creates either an upward flow of energy and positive relationships in the school or a slow death spiral of depression, anger, and cynicism.
• Culture trumps innovation. That means that continuous improvements in teaching and learning require that we address cultural elements such as trust, experimentation, risk taking, and teamwork, among other attributes.
• Schools face adaptive challenges for which no sure-fire solutions exist. Therefore, it’s essential that school communities invent their way into the achievement of important goals.
• Some things leaders do count more than others. That means that we focus relentlessly on a small number of actions and are disciplined in minimizing if not eliminating activities that have little effect on important goals.
• The most significant barriers to continuous improvement are lack of clarity regarding goals and methods, resignation, and dependence on others for direction and guidance. Therefore, it’s important that we develop professional clarity, hopefulness, and teamwork beginning with ourselves and spreading outward from us into the school community.
• Leadership can be developed. With persistence and patience we can acquire new habits of mind and behavior that support the school community’s most important goals.
I’ll be developing these ideas and others in future essays and look forward to receiving you suggestions either in the comment section or directly at email@example.com.
To extend your learning and strengthen your leadership practice
Describe in writing you fundamental beliefs about leadership. If it is helpful to you, use my beliefs to stimulate your thinking about your assumptions and offer them to other readers in the comment section of this blog and to your colleagues “back home.” Focus on what you believe rather than critiquing my assumptions. I encourage you to strive for clarity and succinctness by expressing each belief in just a sentence or two, a leadership discipline that is worthy of practice and persistence.
Also, please consider subscribing to this blog, which only requires providing an email address to WordPress, so that you will be automatically notified of future posts. (I won’t use your address for any other purposes.)