7 Ways That Principals Can Influence School Culture
When it comes to school culture, principals have the most influence on it. They do so by setting the tone for how others are to behave and interact in the school environment. Good school leaders create a culture of respect, trust, optimism, and intention, and bad ones do just the opposite. In this article, we will discuss 7 ways that principals can influence school culture.
- Create a shared vision. As a principal, it is your job to create a grand vision for your school. However, this vision should not be created in a vacuum. Once you create your vision, share it with your leadership team and then with the entire staff. Let them partner with you to shape your vision into a collaborative one that everyone can buy into. At the end of the process, everyone might not be happy, but they will buy into this shared vision since they had a hand in creating it.
- Be dependable. The key to any organization is the presence of employees that are responsible and trustworthy. As the school leader, it is your job to set the tone by being dependable and trustworthy in your dealings. If you say you are going to do something, do it. This will filter down to the rest of your team, creating an environment were everyone trusts each other to follow through on their responsibilities.
- Practice intentionality. As a leader, everything that you do must be intentional. Intentionality is “A decision to purposely act in a certain way to achieve and carry out a set goal. It’s knowing what we intend to accomplish, as well as how we intend to go about it.” This way, when you make decisions, the intent behind your actions is not hard for people to decipher. They will be able to spot the rhyme and reason behind your decisions and see how it meshes with the school’s mission and vision.
- Embrace failure. School leaders sometimes get caught up in wanting to appear perfect and infallible. However, this is a huge mistake. Being upfront about your mistakes can create a school culture where people can be human. When we think of mistakes and failures as the building blocks of success, not something that should be shunned, innovation and creativity can blossom.
- Delegate. Attempting to do the lion’s share of the work will only lead to frustration and burnout. Instead of going this route, delegate tasks to your leadership team and other staff members. This will create an environment where people feel empowered and experience true professional growth.
- Embrace change. In this life, nothing is certain except change. Don’t be the leader who resists new innovations and practices, be the leader that embraces them. From time to time, your district will adopt new policies, reforms, technology, etc. When they do, embrace these changes, and model flexibility to your staff. Things are going to change, with or without your blessing. Might as well get used to it.
- Be risk-taker. You know the old saying “no risk, no reward?” This is certainly true in the field of education. Many of the educational innovations that we use today were created by educators that decided to try something new, and as a result, make a difference. As a principal, create an environment where fidelity to district, state, and federal policies is mandatory, but also where experimentation and creativity are encouraged.
Can you think of any other ways that principals can influence school culture?