Effective Educational Leadership: Keys to Success
Effective educational leadership is pivotal for nurturing a learning environment conducive to student success. Drawing from 25 years of experience and insights from esteemed colleagues, let’s delve into rules 9-12 of successful educational leadership.
Rule 9: You get more bees with honey.
Kindness and diplomacy are vital in cultivating strong relationships. Research in the American Journal of Education shows leaders who exhibit empathy and understanding are more adept at resolving conflicts and securing support.
Parable Illustration: In a small village, there were two teachers. One was strict and unyielding, often scolding students for their mistakes. The other teacher, however, approached with kindness, praising efforts and gently correcting errors. Over time, the students of the kind teacher showed remarkable improvement and engagement, not out of fear, but out of respect and a genuine desire to learn. This story exemplifies how positive reinforcement and empathy can yield better results than harshness or criticism.
Pop Culture Anecdote: A memorable example comes from the movie “Tommy Boy.” In a scene, Chris Farley’s character, Tommy, persuades a waitress to serve them food even though the kitchen is closed. He achieves this not through demands or anger, but by being charming and kind. This humorous yet poignant moment illustrates how a positive approach can often accomplish more than a negative one, a valuable lesson in leadership and interpersonal interactions.
Rule 10: Hire the very best; don’t settle.
Jim Collins, in his seminal book “Good to Great,” emphasizes the importance of assembling a talented and dedicated team. By getting the right people on the bus and in the right seats, organizations create a strong foundation for long-term success.
Personal Anecdote: In my career, I once witnessed a situation where my head principal faced a dilemma just two days before the school year. A candidate for a teaching position was available, but they were not the best fit. Despite the time pressure, the principal decided to wait. Miraculously, a more suitable candidate appeared shortly after. This decision not only filled the position with a more competent teacher but also set a higher standard for our hiring process. This experience taught me the value of patience and not settling for less.
Rule 11: Listen twice as much as you speak.
Effective communication includes active listening. A study in the International Journal of Educational Management found that leaders who actively listened to their staff members experienced improved team dynamics and increased staff satisfaction.
Native American Wisdom: There’s a wise Native American saying that the Creator gave us two ears, two eyes, and only one mouth, so we should listen and observe twice as much as we talk. This principle reminds leaders of the importance of being attentive and considerate to the perspectives and needs of others.
Rule 12: Extreme accountability is necessary for long-term success.
Leadership success hinges on taking full responsibility for one’s actions and those of their teams. This is a cornerstone of Jocko Willink’s philosophy in “Extreme Ownership.” Willink argues that true leadership entails embracing both triumphs and failures. It involves a transparent assessment of mistakes, learning from them, and proactively making changes for improvement. This mindset of extreme ownership instills a sense of responsibility and empowerment, leading to higher collaboration, adaptability, and success. Willink emphasizes that problems in a team or organization are leadership problems at their core, and addressing them starts with the leader’s willingness to acknowledge and correct them.
A report by the National Center for Educational Leadership found that accountability in leadership is directly correlated with improved student performance. Doug Reeve’s 90-90-90 search also showed that schools at incredible disadvantage overachieved by taking full ownership of every aspect of student success in their buildings. It’s easy to get caught up in a “victim” instead of “victor” mentality. As a leader, many things happen under us that we can’t control. But when we accept ownership of those things, it changes our perspective on how to address it to make things better.
These principles are instrumental in navigating the complexities of educational leadership and fostering an environment where educators and students alike can excel.