• Based on what you have learned so far, what are the top 3-5 characteristics you believe a successful principal must possess?
Most of us have experienced both effective and ineffective leaders over the course of our lives, beginning with our own years of schooling thorough our entry into the workforce and now within the context of our current careers. We “feel” when someone is a good leader; they inspire us, garner our commitment to shared purpose and goals and motivate us to perform at higher levels than we would without their influence.
Marzano (2005), in “School Leadership that Works” states, “…our meta-analysis of 35 years of research indicates that school leadership has a substantial effect on student achievement and provides guidance for experienced and aspiring administrators alike.” In a more recent report just released in July 2010 from the Center for Applied Research and Educational Improvement (CAREI), “Learning from Leadership: Investigating the Links to Improved Student Learning”, the authors state:
In developing a starting point for this six-year study, we claimed, based on a preliminary review of research, that leadership is second only to classroom instruction as an influence on student learning, After six additional years of research, we are even more confident about this claim. To date we have not found a single case of a school improving student achievement in the absence of talented leadership.(p.11)So what does it take to be an effective leader? What qualities, skills, and practices differentiate effective leaders from ineffective or average leaders?
Throughout the readings, discussion with classmates and colleagues and personal reflection, what struck me the most is the number and variety of leadership models and styles and the complexity of the role of school leaders. In sifting through the information, opinions and research, a number of common themes, practices and characteristics emerge. The practices identified by the CAREI report referenced above align with and confirm most Marzano’s 21 responsibilities (2005).
I believe the top characteristics of effective leaders are:
- Ability to develop a shared vision with the school community and a strategic plan for implementation. A vision without an implementation plan is just a string of pretty buzzwords hanging on a plaque or banner.
- Ability to foster collaboration and communication and build teams. Within this broader category are several crucial talents and practices: a strong belief in others, the ability to bring diverse groups and perspectives together, shared or distributed leadership and building leadership in others.
- Authenticity and integrity
- Situational Awareness and Flexibility - Ability to carefully assess situations and adjust style, response and follow-up based on context and needs.
Louis, K.; Leithwood ,K.; Wahlstrom, K.; Anderson, Stephen. (July, 2010). Learning from Leadership: Investigating the Links to Improved Student Learning. Final Report of Research to the Wallace Foundation. Center for Applied Research and Educational Improvement (CAREI) University of Minnesota.