School Leadership Today – What Does it Take?

What does it take to be a School Leader in today’s schools.  Superhuman, supersonic, super person all come to mind but that is really an impossible reality.  I teach in a principal preparation program preparing candidates to become the principals and assistant principals of the future. I want to prepare them for the realities they will face but I never want to be overwhelm them by the complexity and demands of the positions.  And while, I remember so well the hard realities of the position, it is one that I loved and could not have been happy doing something different.

I have also come to the reality that superhumans are not needed in the job.  Doug Reeves, in his book From Leading to Succeeding: The Seven Elements of Effective Leadership in Education,  targets seven critical leadership skills leading to success: Purpose, Trust, Focus, Leverage, Feedback, Change, and Sustainability.  Seven simple elements, yet, we can get caught up in competing demands and lose sight of them..  I am going to speak about all seven over time, but, today, I want to focus on Purpose.  What is your purpose in the role you have accepted or aspire to be?

By finding your core values, your mission, your vision, your purpose, you can chart a path that guides the work you do and the people you  lead.  Doug Reeves asks you to answer the following questions:

What do we aspire to be and to do?

Why are we here and what makes us come to school every day?

What are we passionate about?

Can you express your passion and purpose in a few words with absolute clarity?

According to Dr. Reeves passion and emotional engagement are deeply intertwined.  Our passion for what we do forces us to establish an emotional engagement to do what is necessary to support our passion.  With purpose comes accountability.  We are accountable for the visions and missions we create and ensuring they guide not only our work but the work of our schools.  A clear and concise vision and mission ensures we stay on the path and enables us to dismiss conflicting and competing factors that don’t support our purpose, our passion.  Dr. Reeves relates that, “When multiple conflicting purposes are piled on top of one another, an organization winds up with no purpose at all.”  What is it that you are passionate about?  What is your purpose? Do your people know this? Does it guide your work?  Think deeply and resurrect that passion and purpose that led you to want to make a difference for the students in our schools.  Please join KAESP  in this passion!

Next week, I will talk about the second element, trust.

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