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Lead to Teach: 6 skills of an excellent school leader


Lead to Teach: 6 skills of an excellent school leader

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If one ponders upon the leading factors behind their success, they will likely identify their schooling and educational background as the most significant. To succeed in life, you need a strong academic foundation. The success of the educational sector, in turn, depends on more than just the teachers and students. It depends largely on its leadership.

School leadership refers to the administrators responsible for managing the day-to-day work of an institute. It includes the staff responsible for the quality of education, institutes learning outcomes and objectives, the teaching strategy, and much more. The head office, principal, teachers and leaders all constitute school leadership. Research suggests that school leadership is the second most crucial factor in student achievement, next only to the quality of teaching. Dynamic, skilled, and well-aware leadership can significantly impact the school’s educational policy. We will now be discussing the skills necessary to become a successful school leader.

1. Democratic leadership style

Instead of adopting a ‘know it all approach, excellent school leaders are those who recognize their team’s potential and allow them to use it. A team built on the authority of a single person can never flourish equally well as a team where everyone has a say.  By allowing your team members to contribute, you get to cultivate a wealth of new ideas that can benefit your organization. By empowering others and maintaining control, a good leader brings more opinions to the table and enables better problem-solving.

Such leadership ability is something you acquire with time, experience and qualification. Administrators who have completed Leadership and Management courses can successfully take on school leadership roles and be successful. Leadership programs train candidates to manage teams effectively, acquire personal and political managerial skills, and exercise good decision-making abilities.

2.  Good communication skills

Leaders have a major role in sending and receiving information in the communication chain. Leaders have to communicate very frequently, often with large audiences; they must have the ability to think and express ideas clearly in a way that ensures comprehension. Whether it is communicating with the teachers, other staff members, or students, you need to manage the flow of information.

In addition to conveying a message, communication also involves receiving information. Good communicators are also good listeners. For a school leader, it is crucial that they listen to the perspectives of all involved parties. They should absorb the information provided and take all this knowledge into consideration when making decisions. If the team leader is good at listening to others’ viewpoints, they are likely to foster and earn the respect of their team members.

3.   High emotional intelligence

Emotional intelligence refers to the ability to identify your emotions, recognize other people’s mental states, and adjust your behavior according to these evaluations. Successful school leaders are self-aware, socially vigilant, and can effectively manage themselves and their relationships. According to Harvard Business Review, a common trait of influential leaders and executives is high emotional intelligence. This allows people to remain calm under stress, exhibit empathy when interacting with others, and resolve conflicts successfully. Such leaders can identify if biases impact their decisions and if their pride is coming in the way. They can control their emotions, anticipate others’ sentiments, and respond appropriately.

4.   Relationship management skills

Managing relationships is the core skill in leading a team. Everyone expects a leader to direct everyone towards a common goal and influence them to ensure team solidarity. For this to work, you need to maintain healthy relationships with others. This is particularly important where the team you lead includes members from diverse backgrounds who have different viewpoints. There is a multicultural community in many schools, and cross-cultural interaction is necessary. To manage relationships successfully, a leader needs the patience to listen, entertain questions, communicate clearly, and emphasize shared values. Efficient school leaders are those who can disarm conflicts without upsetting the parties involved, encourage collaboration despite differences, and develop a bond with everyone.

5.  Good judgment and decision making

A school leader has a lot of decisions to make. From overlooking teaching strategies and making hiring decisions to introducing new policies, there is a lot a school leader needs to decide. In all such decisions, good judgment is essential. Excellent leaders can make timely decisions by evaluating all available information. They consider the broader perspective and long-term consequences when looking at alternatives. They demonstrate good analytical ability and can reach effective decisions even in ambiguous situations. To be a successful leader, you need insight, situational awareness, critical thinking, intuition, and reasoning ability to make decisions beneficial for the organization.

6.  Prioritization

School leaders will have a lot of tasks to manage in a limited time. Prioritization is thus important. You need to delegate your time in a way that you don’t keep working on unimportant tasks while the important ones get ignored. Prioritization minimizes stress, improves productivity, frees time for relaxation, prevents procrastination, and provides motivation. If done right, prioritization also lets you save time to review and recheck your work after all the important tasks are complete. Great leaders can maintain focus, do not get side-tracked by unnecessary tasks, and help their team members do the same.

Final words

Leadership is not something you can master in a day without practice or knowledge. It requires skill. Managing a team requires patience, consideration, empathy, emotional intelligence, good judgment, and communication skills. Learning and experience can polish your leadership skills. You can enroll in leadership training programs and make a conscious effort to adopt traits that make a good leader.