Successful leadership requires effective management

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How different our lives are when we really know what is deeply important to us, and keeping that picture in mind, we manage ourselves each day to be and do what really matters. –Stephen Covey

My simple definition of school leadership is creating with the school community that which does not now exist for the benefit of students.

But it’s also essential that principals and teacher leaders be able to manage, which I define as getting things done for both what now exists and for what is being created. It involves both management of self and of the complex system that is the schoolhouse.

From my experience, here are a few essential things that effective managers do:

Effective managers are intentional. They think about what they want to accomplish today and in the future and have a fool-proof system in place for ensuring that those things get done.

• Effective managers are diligent about keeping promises both to themselves and to others. Promise keeping is a hallmark of leaders’ integrity, which, in turn, is the touchstone for trust within the school community.

• Effective managers consistently practice “next action thinking.” Meetings and learning events never conclude without clarity about what will be done next, by whom, and to what standard.

• Effective managers reserve time for quiet reflection regarding their practice and the well-being of the school community. They use this time to recall their values and goals, to consider the effectiveness of their actions, and to establish short and long-term priorities.

• Effective managers know when and how to say “no.” They consciously minimize obligations on themselves and on the school community that would distract from the achievement of important goals.

What have I missed?

2 Responses to “Successful leadership requires effective management”


  1. 1 Kent Peterson March 1, 2013 at 11:25 am

    This is an important list that should be on the wall of all leaders. They are excellent reminders of ways of being that will move schools and districts forward.

    I would add a more mundane, but useful idea: “Effective managers establish routines that solve regular problems and smooth common interactions.” More effective managers, and I would add leaders, organize their schools so that less energy is used on routine issues and less “drama” occurs during the day.

    Kent Peterson, co-author of “Shaping School Culture”.


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