A local board of education has one of the most important responsibilities in our society – helping lead the education of the children in the community. Its decisions affect the lives of students and their parents, the livelihoods of those the district employs and the economic well-being of the community.
At a time when America’s schools and students face greater challenges than ever before, school boards must demonstrate their leadership by focusing on the academic skills and competencies of students that will make them successful citizens in the future. To accomplish this task, boards must be visionary and open to embracing research-based reforms that have resulted in high performing districts. Do you have the leadership skills necessary to accomplish the enormous progress schools must make? The following characteristics can be found in the highly successful leader.
Leaders know and understand what it means and what it takes to be a leader
Leadership is the act of identifying important goals and then motivating and enabling others to devote themselves and all necessary resources to achievement. It includes summoning one’s self and others to learn and adapt to the new situation represented by the goal.
Leaders have a vision for schools that they constantly share and promote
Leaders have a vision of the ideal, can articulate this vision to any audience, and work diligently to make it a reality. Leaders also know how to build upon and sustain a vision that preceded them.
Leaders communicate clearly and effectively
Leaders possess effective writing and presentation skills. They express themselves clearly, and are capable of responding to the hard questions in a public forum. They are also direct and precise questioners, always seeking understanding.
Leaders collaborate and cooperate with others
Leaders communicate high expectations and provide accurate information to foster understanding and maintain trust and confidence. Leaders reach out to others for support and assistance, build partnerships, secure resources, and share credit for successes and accomplishments.
Leaders persevere and take the “long view”
Leaders build institutions that endure. They “stay the course” maintain focus, anticipate and work to overcome resistance. They create capacity within the organization to achieve and sustain its vision.
Leaders support, develop and nurture staff
Leaders set a standard for ethical behavior. They seek diverse perspectives and alternative points-of-view. They encourage initiative, innovation, collaboration, and a strong work ethic. Leaders expect and provide opportunities for staff to engage in continuous personal and professional growth.
Leaders hold themselves and others responsible and accountable
Leaders embrace and adhere to comprehensive planning that improves the organization. They use data to determine the present state of the organization, identify root-cause problems, propose solutions, and validate accomplishments.
Leaders never stop learning and honing their skills
Leaders are introspective and reflective. Leaders ask questions and seek answers. Leaders in education are familiar with current research and best practice, not only in education, but also in other related fields.
Leaders have the courage to take informed risks
Leaders embrace informed, planned change and recognize that everyone may not support change. Leaders work to win support and are willing to take action in support of their vision, even in the face of opposition.
Note: Excerpts taken from "Instructional Leadership for School Improvement" by Sally J. Zepeda, 2003, Routledge.