Dr. Reeves Third Element – Focus

In his book, From Leading to Succeeding: The Seven Elements of Effective Leadership In Education, Douglas Reeves names Focus as the necessary third element to effective school leadership. Dr. Reeves states: “The element of focus suggest that successful leaders must make conscious choices about what they will do but also about what they will not do.” Dr. Reeves differentiates between focused leaders and fragmented leaders. According to Dr. Reeves “Focused leaders pursue sustainable practices, while fragmented leaders chase programs with elusive and illusory claims of proprietary exclusivity.”

Dr. Reeves has developed an Implementation Audit system to determine the value of initiatives. The four quadrants are weed, evaluate, lead, and invest. Weed those initiatives that have low levels of implementation and little impact on student achievement. Evaluate includes deeply implemented programs with questionable evidence of impact on student achievement. Lead includes initiatives that have high impact but low implementation. This category has the greatest challenge for education leaders. Invest in initiatives that have high implementation and high impact. The challenge with these is to expand these practices.

Dr. Reeves proposes the use of a three- or four- level rubric to assess the implementation of initiatives. In assessing the level of implementation, school can develop a roadmap to improvement. For Dr. Reeves, focus is the closing of the gap of what we know and what we do. Finally, Dr. Reeves encourages leader to avoid fragmentation, weed the school of ineffective practices, and reallocate time to instructional and leadership practices that have the highest impact.

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