Institutions of education have the outstanding responsibility of preparing the next generation with the skills and knowledge they will need to build personal and professional success. Yet, it is remarkably difficult for institutions to contribute positively to students’ futures when school leadership is lacking in fundamental ways.
Education leaders need to be community builders with a vision and plan for the development of their institutions. They need to think positively and act authentically to build support from their staff, students, and the surrounding community.
School leaders who are struggling to be what their institutions need might consider the following improvements they can make to be more effective in their roles.
Take Leadership Courses
Education leadership is a unique kind of leadership that maintains distinct responsibilities and requires specialized skills and knowledge — but it is leadership, nonetheless. Education leaders might consider the benefits of participating in leadership courses from business schools, which might train leaders in useful techniques that allow for greater effectiveness in school administration.
Gain Control of Emotions
Education provides work environments that trigger a wide range of emotions, from overwhelming joy to burning frustration and even sorrow. However, education leaders cannot afford to allow their energy levels to be affected by such powerful emotions. Leaders in education spaces should strive to gain complete control over their emotions, so they can be more effective in their leadership positions.
Communication is among the most important skills for all professionals, but leaders need to be particularly adept at communicating with all manner of other people, from fellow staff and administrators to students to school donors and more. Online communications courses can be helpful, but leaders should also strive to practice effective communication in all aspects of life to improve this essential skill.
Leave the Office
Education leaders often have mountains of paperwork to complete, but locking themselves away from the education environment will only disconnect them from the needs of their staff and students. Leaders should strive to complete paperwork during the early or late hours, so they might leave their offices and spend time in classrooms while education is ongoing.
Some leaders are tempted to pass along responsibility for errors or failures to keep their records spotless, but the truth is that taking full accountability for mistakes will build respect and appreciation amongst staff. Plus, because mistakes are opportunities to learn and improve, education leaders who admit to their mistakes gain the chance to become stronger, better leaders for the future.
Learn to Recognize Talent
To accomplish their mission for their school or district, education leaders must work with teams of educators who share their vision. Hiring and promoting the right people is essential to achieving success, so education leaders should become familiar with the qualities of educators who will be beneficial additions to the team.
Function as a Teammate
Though they may head their teams, education leaders remain members of their education teams. As such, leaders should learn how to function as team members providing the support that members of their staff need to accomplish their tasks with success.
Find a Mentor
Transitioning into education leadership positions can be difficult for those with limited experience in the education system. Thus, education leaders early in their careers might seek out more established leaders to guide them and provide support as they learn and grow in their positions of leadership.
Become a Mentor
Both sides of the mentor-mentee relationship can provide personal and professional growth and development for an education leader. Leaders might offer to mentor newer members of their staff, and when they establish themselves as successful in positions of leadership, they can also mentor newer leaders.
Offer Second Chances
Leaders who jump to conclusions consistently make bad decisions as they fail to collect enough information about a situation to develop a complete picture. In addition to displaying patience and diligence in decision-making, education leaders should learn to be generous in giving the benefit of the doubt to most people they encounter. Offering people multiple chances will allow them to grow, develop loyalty and ensure that leaders have the most possible information before they take drastic measures.
Schools and districts rely on education leaders to guide staff and students to success. Education leaders should work to be the best versions of themselves, perhaps by employing any of the strategies listed above.