4 Ways School Administrators Can Discover Their Unique Leadership Style
Each administrator has his own unique personality traits. So as can be expected, some leadership styles will appeal more to some school administrators than others. The natural differences in personality among various leaders lead to preferences that run below the leader’s awareness.
What often happens due to these personality traits is that a leader develops judgments, and responds to his or her environment by focusing on certain leadership aspects more than others.
Variations caused by factors such as age, upbringing, and gender have been shown to affect the way personality is developed and expressed. Practices are also influenced by the interaction between personality and contextual aspects associated with the workplace. Examples of these contextual aspects include the perceived nature of work, the leadership experience, the school level, and the leader’s position.
So which is the best way forward? What can school administrators do to find the leadership style that simply clicks for them and leads to unbridled success? Here are a few tips.
1. School leaders and administrators should first acknowledge their inborn, natural tendencies toward some practices over others. They should then reflect on whether these preferences affect their leadership practices. Honesty and transparency in admitting personality differences would motivate the leaders to consider ways to satisfy the various needs of their schools. Self-awareness is a necessary step before leaders can really engage in effective team-building.
2. Delegate, delegate, delegate. Many researchers consider delegation vital for leadership success. Research has shown that delegation is dependent on personality preferences, which translate to foregone conclusions in leadership behavior and in competence. The leader’s preferences are heavily influenced by what is natural, comfortable, and enjoyable for the leader.
Delegation allows the leader and team members to do what they do best.
3. School leaders need to consider the administrator’s preferences when it comes to shaping school leadership responsibilities. They will end up attempting more modest efforts, which sounds counterintuitive—but the success of this practice is actually based on sound research. While this may be more supportive of a differentiated rather than instructional leadership style, the importance of including varying differences of opinion is vital for any leadership model.
4. School leaders should embrace their differences as assets when working together. As schools seek to redefine themselves as learning communities, its members must work together in a friendly, cooperative fashion, by challenging and engaging with each other. Jungian theory finds that diversity generates synergy and innovation. Most leadership researchers and theorists have noted that human differences provide the creative tension needed in the forward movement and growth of any institution. Models of leadership that ignore the nature of leaders tend to be far less effective.
As school principals work to close the achievement gap in learning, they should strive to build a conscious understanding of their own natural preferences, in relation to instructional leadership.
Human differences are often depicted as weaknesses, and are quickly pushed aside. Seeking to address them in a meaningful way, instead of dismissing them, can be a seed for success in educational leadership.
Do you think that leaders need to be aware of and develop their unique leadership qualities to be successful at school? Why (or why not)? Please leave a comment below and share your thoughts.