School Leaders at Every Level: 5 Ways to Create a Culture of Leadership

The differences between high-performing schools and low-performing schools within the public education system are stark and varied, yet it’s the culture of leadership which is either cultivated or not by school leaders which serve as a catalyst for either growth or utter, inefficient chaos. With that truth in mind, here are 5 effective ways school leaders can build a culture of leadership within their institutions.

Do not be afraid to embrace the duality 

The best leaders in any business field understand both their own duality and the duality necessary to lead. Equal parts modesty and will, humility and fearlessness, a true school leader must never be afraid to take control but must also never be afraid to concede control and learn when the situation requires such. A true leader’s example must be one of flexibility, malleability, but a singular resolve that will take on any problem with appropriate force and fire.

Be professional, not a savior

Education is a hard field because there is an inherent structure of altruism within it which can cause some school leaders to misappropriate themselves as saviors rather than business leaders. To try and save every student and/or try to maximize the talents of every teacher is a Herculean task which will end up crushing a school leader under its weight. To build a culture of leadership, school leaders must be able to delegate and organize in such a way that other leaders are built up and their own reserves of energy aren’t depleted.

Understand your importance

Studies show that one transcendent classroom lecture or interaction with a member of the school leadership can change a young student’s life trajectory completely! School leaders must remind their entire staffs of the importance they have in shaping children’s lives. A true culture of leadership in the public education system embraces the power of simple moments of genuine connection, cultivating compassionate leadership who keeps the best interests of the student populace at the forefront of their everyday efforts. 

Leave your ego at the door

School leaders who wield their positions of leadership as weapons in hopes of boosting and placating their own egos create cultures of distrust and resentment which can permeate all levels of an institution.  Confidence is key. Ego is not. A school leader must remain confident as to maintain the respect and trustworthiness necessary to make the tough decisions, but drop the ego in favor of the betterment of the school. A culture of leadership is built upon confident actions removed from personal ego and gain.

Walk how you talk 

In business, brand respectability and loyalty are cultivated through being genuine and transparent with your customer base. That same transparency and genuine nature must serve as the backbone of school leadership. If you are humble, people will view you as such. If you are fair, people will view you as such. School leaders must stress to all faculty and members of leadership that it’s their actions which carry the weight, not the words they use to describe such actions. This pushes other school leaders to act with equal parts thoughtfulness and clarity, building a culture of leadership immune to the toxicity which can bring institutions down in short order.

Concluding Thoughts

While building a culture of leadership may not be the top priority amongst many educators, it should be. It can make a team easier to run, which will help students feel more comfortable and perform better. This leadership can help develop the school into the education system that a district is proud of. 

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