What Makes a Great Educational Leader?
All great leaders have unique qualities that make them effective, inspiring, and admired. Nevertheless, there are identifiable traits and skills successful change-makers possess that separate them from the rest of the pack. Let’s dig in and explore 6 skills of great educational leaders, and how they impact the school community.
Community building is critical in educational leadership. Every great educational leader knows that, as the saying goes, “it takes a village.” The effective leader can reach out to parents, specialists, administrators, teachers, and students to unify them under one important goal.
An unwavering belief in the ability of the school community is a must-have for effective school leaders. Whether the school is facing budget-cuts, or test scores were lower than expected, a strong leader pushes through and knows that these obstacles will be overcome. More importantly, they communicate this to the school community and inspire everyone they lead to operate under the same belief. This quality is often referred to as “grit” or perseverance.
Effective leaders can turn internally and reflect on their growth. Although this isn’t always easy nor comfortable, leaders must be brutally honest when they evaluate their own progress, and the progress of the communities they lead. Additionally, the reflection process must be used to drive change – meaning that the process of looking back must be done in a way that reveals what steps need to be taken to further the mission.
Development and Communication of Vision and a Plan
No leader can truly lead without a clear and inspiring vision. Moreover, this vision must be one with which the entire school community can connect. At the same time, communicating this vision is arguably even more important. Therefore, a great leader must communicate their vision through not only their words but also through their actions. This vision and plan must serve as the compass for all decision making and actions that are taken.
An effective leader has a strong sense of self and shows their true self to anyone they come in contact with. This authenticity has to run deep. No leader can pretend to be something they are not, nor can they mimic somebody else. Not only this, they must allow for those they work with to be their own authentic selves. An educational leader should build a community based on authenticity, and use that power to bring forth real, impactful change.
In all forms of leadership, but especially in educational leadership, leaders need to be driven by passion. A passionate educational leader deeply cares about their community and is wholly enthusiastic about making every day in the school better than the last. This isn’t a trait that can be faked – it is a need that comes from deep within the leader’s core. Their passion should be apparent to all that they work with and should inspire others to join them on their mission.
Of course, there are plenty of other qualities that educational leaders should demonstrate, but these are the top traits that we have found that make a leader stand out. Communication, passion, drive, authenticity, community-building, and reflection all are hallmarks of an educational leader that is ready to make change and affect the lives of the students, parents, and teachers they serve.