Monday, February 21, 2011

Education: How Principals Pass As Instructional Leaders and Fail as Managers

Within education, almost any teacher can become a principal through self-direction provided they have the proper education and credentials. Unfortunately, within the training of principals, the focus is on being an instructional leader and not a manager leader.

Incoming principals bring their instructional strengths and knowledge of working with students, but to be an effective manager within the school requires additional skill sets that are not actively developed during their teacher or principal training.

In the previous teaching role, the new or even existing principal probably spent the majority of her or his time using job specific skills such as instruction, writing lesson plans and grading papers. Dealing with students and parents was only to a certain level and then those interactions where elevated to the principal. Now, the principal must deal not only with students and parents, but manage an entire organization - the school - from the custodial and support staff to the teachers.

Being a principal extends beyond just instructional leadership. Ongoing research also reveals that effective leadership practices can raise academic achievement one standard deviation or a jump from the 50th to 60th percentile. Additionally, another study suggests that the principal's leadership can affect student achievement by 20%.

Suddenly, a new picture has emerged. The strengths of the former teachers are now relegated to the >i and new skills including leadership, management, delegation and communication have risen to the top. What is now known to be true is that being an effective manager within the role of school leader is critical to the success of every school.

Given that there is an ongoing shortage of qualified principals, school districts must begin to develop these critical employees to ensure continued performance improvement of everyone within the corporation. To guarantee that principals pass both the instructional leadership and the management roles requires the assessment of current training and management policies. Can your principals demonstrate the following:

Identify their role as manager?

Recognize organizational development/changes?

Implement direction and build a team to row together in that direction?

Set and achieve goals consistently?

Recognize how to integrate the role of leader and follower?

Develop subordinates through goal setting and goal achievement?

Differentiate between life positions such as through Transactional Analysis?

Manage and plan meetings that are timely and respectful of all shareholders?

Characterize effective communication both personally and organizationally

Understand performance appraisals and how to use them as a tool for performance improvement?

Effectively deal with negative behavior at all levels using a problem solving strategy?

Determine and consistently achieve organizational goals?

By accepting that the high performing former super-worker teacher cannot automatically turn into the same high performing principal without additional development is probably the most important realization that any school district can take. Implementation of an effective management program for your principals will increase your bottom line and create the high performance organizational culture necessary to be competitive in today's 24/7 global market place.

Leanne Hoagland-Smith, President of ADVANCED SYSTEMS, works with large urban to private schools, certified staff, support staff, students and parents to improve performance in 30 to 180 days. Using proven tools, we can quickly and affordably identify the gaps in YOUR organization, provide you with an Action Plan that you can easily implement along with developmental programs from executive leadership to student leadership.