4 Mistakes That Educational Leaders Make
We’ve all read plenty of articles that discuss the best qualities of educational leaders – but what about the other side of leadership? Every leader makes mistakes, even the most successful and well-liked ones. In fact, there are mistakes that we see educational leaders make time and time again. Learn from these common errors, and keep them in mind as you embark on your own educational leadership journey.
Becoming Too Task-Oriented
Unsurprisingly, teachers have reported feeling frustrated when they visit their leaders, and the leader is working on the computer or reading a document instead of practicing active listening. When you are an educational leader, it is easy to be consumed by the ever-growing list of tasks, meetings, calls, and paperwork. Nevertheless, effective leaders do not put their interpersonal communication skills on the back burner. This gives the impression that you don’t care about the people you lead – and caring is one of the core competencies of a great leader.
Delivering Feedback in Public
Delivering feedback is a highly personal task, and should be done privately (especially if the feedback is constructive rather than positive). To a busy leader, it may seem efficient and harmless to provide feedback to a teacher during a group meeting – but this may be a mistake. Just as educators are taught the negative effects of delivering consequences to students in front of the class, negative emotions are associated with doing the same to adults. If you have feedback to provide, carve out time in your day to deliver it one-on-one. It will build trust between you and your fellow educators.
Leaders work hard – but so does the rest of the school community. It can be easy to see only the work that you put into meeting goals, but remember, none of the progress made in the school would be possible if students, teachers, and parents weren’t as dedicated as you are. Don’t let their efforts go unnoticed. If test scores are high, or attendance goals are being met, or if you and the teachers have an incredibly fruitful curriculum planning meeting – let them know! Go out of your way to reward hard work, just as you would do in your classroom. The community will be grateful for your recognition, and it will serve as a powerful motivator to keep the momentum going.
You just put out one fire – and now there is a frustrated parent, or an upset teacher, waiting at your door. Perhaps you made a mistake, and you are passing the blame to another party. Our advice? Don’t do it. A good leader needs to get in front of crises and take ownership of their actions – and not only the positive ones. Everyone makes mistakes, and we all must learn from them. In the face of adversity, remain humble and remember your commitment to the community. Avoiding conflict is never the answer because it doesn’t make the conflict go away. In fact, avoidance only tends to fan the flames of the issue.
Educational leadership programs tend to focus on the “do’s” of leadership – but we rarely have the opportunity to learn from the “don’ts.” After all, we can’t know the challenges that await us. Thankfully, though, if you always remember that the power of leadership lies within the people you lead, it will be much easier to recover their trust if you do happen to make one of these mistakes.