I believe leadership characteristics manifest through performance, not merely in potential; and therefore, an excellent administrator cannot be simply defined by their personal characteristics. While innate traits and personality play a role in leadership success, a focus on what a person does (the kinds of skills which they exhibit in carrying out their jobs effectively) more effectively defines who they are.
Chart a Course for Improvement
I believe the defining characteristic of a successful leader is their ability to accelerate lasting and meaningful change. They can see beyond the ambiguity and challenges in front of them, and envision a better future. At the core of effective leadership, is the ability to chart a course for improvement aligned with a shared organizational vision.
Shared Organizational Vision
An educational leader must masterfully communicate a shared vision so it is ambitious, understandable, precise, powerful and engaging. The best leaders articulate a shared vision that followers are willing to invest more effort in, are optimistic about, and believe in their abilities to contribute to the process. Purpose and meaning are the driving forces behind motivation; therefore, leaders must instill a strong sense of purpose within the organizational vision so that all stakeholders can realize the impact of collaborative vision attainment.
It takes more than vision to effectively lead. Successful leaders must give life to the spoken word by living the vision each day. While an organization’s vision is equivalent to the destination it seeks to reach, effective leaders provide the collaborative means for actualizing that vision. It takes dedication and desire to work towards a shared vision, and effective leaders put in the effort without reservation.
Develop and Foster a Climate of Engagement
I believe that school leaders must develop and foster a school climate that supports and enables growth. It is the obligation of school leaders to promote a school culture designed to drive engagement and motivation. Educational leaders must spearhead the effort in building a culture that fosters open dialogue and professional inquiry within the context of progress. They must be sincere in their invitation to engage in meaningful dialogue, and are receptive to new information and perspectives.
Provide Opportunity for Intellectual Stimulation & Individuality
Part of creating a culture for growth involves providing opportunities for self-actualization and individuality. I believe that effective school leaders inspire others to harness their unique gifts and strengths to innovate and find creative solutions. To foster a respect for individuality, leaders must create an open environment where people learn to trust each other.
I firmly believe that educational leaders must create a culture for intellectual stimulation and discovery. They must constantly be asking questions of their staff and of themselves which will result in progress and development. To foster intellectual stimulation, educational leaders must articulate and support a cultural mindset of curiosity rather than judgment. Educational leaders must encourage and support their staff in asking questions, thinking deeply, and figuring out better ways to execute tasks within the context of the school and beyond.
Develop Future Leaders
Intellectual stimulation and discovery provides endless opportunities for shared leadership. I believe leaders have a responsibility and obligation to develop future leaders within all levels their organization and beyond. Leaders must develop others through education, experience, professional dialogue, inquiry, and mentoring
Finally, while the actions of a leader impact their success, their personality does play a role in effective leadership. In order for school leaders to be successful they must be courageous and daring, and willing to take calculated risks. Leaders will face many obstacles; therefore, they must possess inner resolve so they can persist.