TIPSHEET – 10 Big Ideas of School Leadership

School Leadership photo

1) Your School Must Be For All Kids 100 Percent of the Time
If school leaders start making decisions based on avoiding conflict, the students lose.

2) Create a Vision, Write It Down, And Start Implementing It
Don’t put your vision in your drawer and hope for the best. Every decision must be aligned with a school leader’s vision. The whole organization is watching when you make a decision, so consistency is crucial.

3) It’s the People, Stupid
The secret of managing is to keep the guys who hate you away from those who are still undecided. Hire people who support your vision, who are bright, and who like kids.

4) Paddles in the Water
In Outward Bound, school leaders learn how to get through adversity. When you are navigating dangerous rapids in a raft, the only way to succeed is for everyone in the boat to sit out on the edge and paddle really hard. In times of crisis, everyone responds with paddles in the water.

5) Find Time to Think During the Day
They pay me to worry. It’s OK to stare at the wall and think about how to manage change.

6) Take Responsibility for the Good and the Bad
If the problems in your school or organization lie below you and the solutions lie above you, then you have rendered yourself irrelevant. The genius of a school lies within the school and its leadership. The solutions to problems are almost always right in front of you.

7) You Have the Ultimate Responsibility
School leaders have very clear expectations. Make sure people have the knowledge, resources, and time to accomplish what you expect. This shows respect. As much as possible, give people the autonomy to manage their own work, budget, time, and curriculum. Autonomy is the goal, though you still have to inspect.

8) Have a Bias for Yes
The only progress you will ever make involves risk: Ideas that teachers have may seem a little unsafe and crazy. Try to think, “How can I make this request into a yes?”

9) Consensus is Overrated  Twenty percent of people will be against anything. When you realize this, you avoid compromising what really should be done because you stop watering things down.

10) Large Change Needs to be Done Quickly
If you wait too long to make changes to school culture, you have already sanctioned mediocre behavior because you’re allowing it. That’s when change is hard, and you begin making bad deals.