What qualities do all exceptional educational leaders share?
- 1 Maintaining standards of excellence in education
- 2 They work in partnership with the community
- 3 Inspire colleagues and encourage their ambitions
- 4 They plan for the future of their facility
- 5 Collaboration and inclusivity are actively promoted
- 6 Lifelong learning is valued
- 7 Failure is considered to be a part of learning
- 8 Demonstrating excellence at every opportunity
- 9 Each role is a long-term commitment
- 10 A willingness to sharing their feelings and be accessible
- 11 Their financial skill set is impressive
- 12 Always seeking to motivate others
- 13 Team spirit and relationship building are nurtured
- 14 Finds and rewards good performance
Many of the qualities required to be an excellent educational leader are similar to those of any other successful leader, but for teachers, the role tends to have more complexity. They play a key role in establishing a good reputation for their facility and implementing policies which support learning. Moreover, they influence the culture and attitude of a school, college, or university. By forming positive relationships with the team, the students, and their families, an educational leader ensures the community is functioning well and progressing. Although they remain mindful of their school’s history, educational leaders focus on encouraging, enabling, and nurturing the future generation.
Maintaining standards of excellence in education
An absence of leadership or a weak leader can have the opposite effect, undermining the hard work of both staff and students. This causes learning to be compromised and the standards of the facility to deteriorate. So, what makes an effective leader in education, and how can an individual leverage their position to drive the right type of change? There are many personal traits and professional skills that are of value. Here’s a look at some of the qualities that most successful educational leaders share.
They work in partnership with the community
To build a college which is caring, culturally aware, and responsive to the needs of students, leaders nurture collaborations with community stakeholders and families. Part of establishing this network involves being visible within the school and the community. This can be achieved by holding events to which local people are invited, as well as meeting parents punctually if they have concerns. Leaders can also invite members of the local healthcare team and law enforcement to visit the school. While there, these professionals will speak to students, foster positive relationships, and give advice where needed. In facilitating these visits, educational leaders promote feelings of trust and a sense of shared responsibility.
In a school, transparency is important. It can empower teachers to try new things because they feel supported by their leadership team. Trust also motivates students, encouraging them to feel a connection with the school and the community as well as a bond with their tutors. Furthermore, families are also more inclined to be supportive of the school because they feel the team is sincere.
Inspire colleagues and encourage their ambitions
No one can run an entire facility alone, however skilled they are. Great educational leaders know this and work to surround themselves with exceptional tutors and support staff. They also recognize that this goes both ways, so they fully back team members who are interested in personal or professional development. Whether people are hoping to become educational leaders themselves, or if they are just looking for a more senior role in the facility, ensuring they feel fulfilled is crucial.
By suggesting opportunities for growth and providing assistance where needed, leaders keep the team engaged and committed to their role. Moreover, professional development improves the skills of each individual and therefore lifts the general standard of teaching in the building. In turn, this can have a significant impact on student welfare and achievement.
They plan for the future of their facility
Having a vision and being able to communicate this clearly to others is important for the future success of a school, college, or university. It establishes a target for the facility to work toward measurable goals that can be monitored. However, it’s not just about overarching, general aims, such as “more students getting top grades.” The vision is more effective when it is broken down into chunks that are managed by teams and departments, each with its own set of objectives, which combine to achieve the final goal.
Leaders are key to this process because they unite the different areas of the college behind the endpoint and help each of them plan to get there. They inject a sense of direction into the staff and students while creating the momentum needed to succeed. Furthermore, they prioritize the most important tasks at hand, refocusing staff on what is central to their work and helping them to avoid distractions.
Collaboration and inclusivity are actively promoted
All students in the building should be supported with flexible learning and access to paths that allow them to reach their educational aims. Inclusivity also refers to schools and colleges ensuring that all students and staff feel welcome. Leaders make this happen by designing learning environments which are safe and nurturing. Their attitude is one of openness when it comes to education, and they encourage collaborations of all kinds. These could be between students, between staff, or with the local community. In doing so they ensure that everyone feels like they belong and that new practices are adopted smoothly within the faculty.
Lifelong learning is valued
An essential quality for any educator is an appreciation of learning and the ability to gain more knowledge. Quality leaders understand that they will never know it all, but they remain confident and curious. In a position of power, it can take a lot of effort to continue to grow and learn new things. However, as the world and education itself are constantly changing, educators need to keep up and remain interested.
By going beyond the necessary training and continually enhancing their aptitudes, educational leaders move with the times. At Marymount University, MA graduates with experience in their chosen field can enhance their skills with a Doctor of Education in Leadership and Innovation qualification. This Doctorate in Education (Ed.D.) is delivered entirely online and can be completed within three years, making it ideal for working professionals.
Failure is considered to be a part of learning
In the majority of cases, educational leaders have experienced failure and know that it can be an important learning curve. Therefore, as well as encouraging their students to take risks, they also encourage the practice amongst the teaching staff to nurture growth and development. In part, this is achieved through supporting new initiatives and ideas, even if the end result is not as productive as the individual would have hoped. Furthermore, educational leaders try to move away from a results-driven culture, as it prevents people from taking risks. Instead, they try to minimize failures by being available for feedback and helping to correct a problem, often in collaboration with other people on the team. As part of this process, teachers can learn from one another and capitalize on their collective intelligence.
Demonstrating excellence at every opportunity
By representing the behavior that you hope to see in your team, you lead by example. This is not about simply pushing others to excel; it’s about being actively involved. Great educational leaders are more likely to say, “We can do this,” than “I know you can do it.” Although support is a great motivator, by including themselves in the statement, educational leaders foster solidarity and trust. This is because they are willing to get involved and share some of the team’s burden. As a result, they create a highly engaged team.
Educational leaders are not just role models for their staff; they should also have the same positive influence on their students and parents. They can do this by managing the stress which comes with any leadership position, remaining kind and fair, and being straightforward when a problem occurs. Furthermore, although it can be a challenge for any professional person in a leadership role, admitting the error when a mistake has been made reinforces trust.
Each role is a long-term commitment
Change is necessary for educational establishments to move forward, but when it happens too often there’s a problem. After establishing their position, a leader can cause serious disruption if they only stay for a year or so. It leaves the staff and the students needing to readjust to the style of a new leader, which can be stressful and therefore harms morale.
Dedicated leaders see their commitment to the school as a long-term obligation, regardless of the obstacles and hard work involved. Moreover, experienced leaders know that change cannot happen in a day, and in order to have a genuine impact, they need to be in it for the duration. By staying with the facility, educational leaders show a level of dedication which can inspire others and have a transformative effect on the culture inside a building.
A willingness to sharing their feelings and be accessible
Educational leaders who have the most positive impact on a facility are those who remain approachable. Whenever it’s possible, they keep their door open, so people don’t need to hover outside, and they use their spare time to support others. They provide encouragement and advice while confiding in others when they are struggling too.
Their financial skill set is impressive
Every educational leader needs a deep understanding of their institution’s finances. Although this is a highly complex topic, it is one of their key responsibilities. To succeed, they need hands-on experience of day-to-day accounting. This could be done through working with the college’s accounting team in order to learn more about its financial flexibility and the management strategies that are in place. The accounts team can provide in-depth tips on how the budget is faring as well as insider knowledge of the resources available and what the most pressing needs are. Educational leaders who are confident in finance are in a better position to suggest change, manage an area of the college’s finances, and make revisions to the budget where needed.
Always seeking to motivate others
There are many ways that educational leaders can motivate their team and their students. One of the most effective is by speaking during assemblies and other meetings as well as in class. Their words are carefully crafted to address any issues that are current and could be troubling the team. They might also reference recent triumphs and causes for celebration to lift everyone’s spirits. Bringing people together in this way establishes deeper working relationships, makes people feel part of something important, and helps to build trust.
Team spirit and relationship building are nurtured
At the start of every academic day, educational leaders can have multiple people that need to be managed—from the tutors in each faculty to the students, administrative staff, janitors, and school nurses. Therefore, a fundamental element of quality leadership in this industry is relationship building. By managing all of the different personalities in their facility, as well as nurturing their strengths, leaders are more likely to create positive outcomes. Moreover, this approach helps to keep people connected with their colleagues, the leadership team, and their students. Strained relationships tend to have the opposite effect, making people feel isolated and uninvolved in the school’s aims.
This does leave leaders with a difficult task on their hands because people management issues are a regular problem in every workplace. Therefore, if necessary, leaders undertake professional development opportunities and training so they can improve their skills in this area. This can be of assistance when it comes to maximizing each person’s performance, having difficult meetings, and retaining the best people.
Finds and rewards good performance
All teachers should expect their students to do well because they invest so much time in delivering quality lessons. The same is true for educational leaders, but their expectations must expand to include the staff, the students, and the support team. This attitude should be reiterated frequently, so everyone remains cognizant of the high standard required of them. When they fall short of these expectations, people need a leader who shows support and encouragement, so the team gets back on its feet quickly.
The other side of this coin is recognition for a job well done. Educational leaders are always looking out for exceptional performance or hard work. When they find it, they are ready to put the colleague or student into the spotlight and ensure they get the praise they deserve. To keep good things happening, they will work to support the initiatives of others to give each project – and the institution as a whole – every chance of success.