During my time as K12 teacher, university lecturer and education adviser, I was fortunate to get into exciting discussions with very experienced deans, senior teachers and school directors about what makes a qualified educational leader.
With this blog, I wanted to share these insights to help you and your network to better manage educational institutions. Many of below leadership elements are applicable in other industries, and not only in the business of education.
- Assess the capacity of teachers. How do you assess the capacity of your teachers? What is the quality of applied lessons plans? How motivated are your teachers? What methods and criteria were used when hiring your teachers? feedback in terms of just saying “I heard something from a parent about you”, will not create confidence or motivation. Feedback must be objective, clear, realistic and justified.
2. Agree vision and mission. Believe it or not, but very often, staff members cannot answer on the mission and vision statement. Make sure these are agreed and clearly communicated. Investor(s), deans, and directors need to be on the same page. The schools’ strategy including hiring, branding, marketing and the service encounter must align with the mission and vision.
3. Agree objectives. What do you want to achieve and by when, in numbers? Example: We want to achieve 10% student growth per year, in the next 3 years, and to achieve 90% overall employee satisfaction in the next 12 months.
4.Agree and communicate duties, accountability, and authority. Conflicts arise when colleagues feel that someone is infringing on someone else’s duties. A leader must clearly (and with support from the top) communicate and handshake personal commitments, duties, and accountability. Being responsible for a subordinates’ career progress and salary may help to convince a subordinate to take action. But confidence is also created based on past track records, knowledge, actual results and how well someone like being with you as a leader.
5.Engage with others. Constantly speak with your subordinates. What are their plans, progress and issues? Join them on breaks and lunches. Work with them. Suddenly stopping having lunch brakes may indicate you are seeing yourself as superior rather than an asset.
6.Proactive communication. When making important decisions; give staff members time to digest the information and be a valuable resource when handling feelings and concerns. Example: don’t announce layoffs or key organizational changes, 24 hours before it takes place. This is sometimes happening unfortunately, especially in school start-ups. It is likely ending up in anger and frustration. Especially when an entire team is suddenly dismissed due to a sudden school closure.
7.Coaching and counselling. These are different things. Some staff members need more training and instructions of how to complete tasks, while others may need advice on behavior, attitude and communication style.
8.Empower subordinates. Empowerment leads to motivation; motivation generates productivity and in many cases: improved gross margins. Delegate tasks but make sure the person who receives your tasks knows what to do, and how. Delegate interesting tasks, not only “boring”, simple or static activities.
9.Reward winners. Reward in public; celebrate smaller wins with a cake, or enjoy a dinner with your team. Small initiatives can make a big difference. Motivation will peak when people feel appreciated and empowered.
10.Understand the culture. Talk with seniors and your colleagues about corporate and country culture. How is a boss expected to handle subordinates? What is seen as “ok” and not “ok”. What is the dress code and codes of conduct?
11.Ask more than you speak. Ask more and speak less. Get information to gauge progress and satisfaction. Take notes of action points and don’t let anything fall behind the chairs.
12.Deliver your promises. If you can’t deliver what you promised, delegate or re-negotiate and communicate changes timely. “I will do it”, when in the reality, nothing happens, is a trust killer.
13.Build a strong team. A strong team takes weeks, and sometimes months to create. A team will go through Tucman’s 4 stages and no team is perfect from day 1. Deal with issues and conflicts as they arise and DON’T let issues fall behind the chair because you are busy with other more important duties. Delegate team building activities if required – and let peers know about your delegation.
14.Self-awareness. Understand your own weaknesses, and strengths, and what you can do to improve as a leader. Consider what others feel and think about your working style and body language. Don’t just enter the school without talking with your peers. Shorter conversations make wonders in these days when people are stressed and overloaded with work.
15.Get feedback from seniors and subordinates. Utilize the 360 feedback method to improve yourself as a leader. Listen to what your peers say about you and be WILLING to take criticism. Don’t ignore criticism because you see yourself as superior and the rest as your “slaves”. Smart people will soon leave your team.
16.Manage emotions. Manage your emotions and others’ feelings. If you have a subordinate who shouts or uses abusive words out of frustration; it is a warning sign and a plan needs to be established for immediate improvements. If you as a leader have a tendency to be stressed or angry with a body language that signals: “I don’t want to be here”; consult a coach and make sure to improve.
17.Don’t ignore. Don’t think that big issues can be solved through silence. Karma will not take care of these problems. Nor Buddha or any other famous religious figurehead. YOU as a leader need to solve issues, concerns and needs and prioritize and delegate.
18.Stay informed & well connected. A respected leader is well informed about trends and news in the industry. Sharing things that peers did not know create credibility.
19.How do you make decisions? Think about what criteria you apply when making decisions and where your information is coming from. People may give you information based on feelings, and speculations, rather than data and facts.
20.Be willing to work at all levels in the organisation. A leader who assists with duties top-bottom including carrying boxes to an event, will be liked by peers.
21.Be bold when hiring. Don’t get stuck in the mentality that experienced staff is always créme-de-la-créme. I have seen teachers and directors with 20 years experience and more, but not delivering the best results or lacking drive and energy to work non-stop, 7 days per week. A newbie with shared values, an incredible drive, and with the right ambition and capability to deliver is often more useful in the long run. A smart candidate knows where to find information and advice to succeed in a new role. We need experience for sure, but Steve Jobs created superior teams based on candidates from different industries and with different cultural and educational backgrounds. He soon made them admire technology and Apple became a global leader.
I hope I managed to give you valuable insights of what to consider when seeking to become a trusted and respected educational leader.
I would be happy to get your comments of above insights.
Anthony Eric brings a wealth of knowledge in international business and he has gained 14 years experiences of how to communicate effectively, how to plan and evaluate operations for low risk and faster decision making. Anthony has been trained by international institutes in the USA, the UK, Ireland and Sweden and he provides business training and communication training for clients in business, and for clients who aim at succeeding in business. His expertise covers leadership, management communication, business planning and sales management. He currently holds an MBA (England) and BSc Engineering (Sweden) and he has gained 21st century skills and knowledge at global leading institutions such as: The British government, Deloitte, IBM, TietoEnator, Ericsson, Consulting firm Semcon, The Open University, King’s College London, Manchester Business School, The University of Birmingham, Royal Institute of Technology KTH and Harvard University in alliance with IBM Leadership Academy. Anthony is the author of the e-book project management success, available on amazon.com.
Copyright (C) 2018. Anthony Eric by Antonios Papadimitriou. All Rights Reserved.