Friday, July 31, 2009

Effective Leadership

This week's blog is centered around two central questions:
  • How has what you've learned so far in this course shaped your concept of an effective leader?
  • Based on what you've learned so far, what are the top 3-5 characteristics you believe a successful principal must possess?
My concept of what it means to be an effective leader has been evolving for several years, even before I enrolled in this course. I had random ideas of a vision of leadership, but nothing concrete that I was able to articulate. I did know a few things about leadership:
  1. There can be many leaders in the building/organization besides the main leader.
  2. There are different ways that a leader can be effective and it largely depends on the innate qualities of the person as to how they will become effective (drawing on their strengths).
  3. A leader cannot do it all by themselves.
After being in the Effective Leadership course for 3 weeks, I have some new insights on effective leadership. Just as Leonard C. Burello writes in the preface of his book, Educating All Students Together, "we need to revisit the definition of student success and engage our communities in a deliberative, democratic planning process to determine how we will acknowledge and value new measures of student learning" (2001, p. viii).
  1. Administrative leaders must assume a role as a public intellectual and practice servant leadership "based on a deep commitment ot values and emerging from a groundswell of moral authority" (Sergiovanni, 2007, p. 78).
  2. Leaders should create a shared vision within their organization/school is what Peter Senge says "fosters a commitment of the long term" (Senge, 2007, p. 11).
  3. Flexibility and adaptability are key when it comes to assessing our vision. Leaders need to recognize that "as circumstances change and improve, it is regularly revisited, discussed, wrestled with and reoriented" (Burello, 2001, p. 42).
  4. There is a difference between school leadership and educational administration. Educational administrators make is so that school leaders can lead. They can bring about actions that allow the school leadership to achieve their goals. (Burello, 2001, p. 183-184).

As my own definition of effective leadership evolves, I am constantly looking at examples of leadership within my school district and assessing the characteristics that I feel assist leaders in becoming effective.
  • Integrity--effective leaders do what they say and say what they do
  • Honesty--effective leaders say what they mean and mean what they say
  • Flexibility--effective leaders are not afraid to change/adapt to fit the needs of the situation
  • Commitment--effective leaders are committed to improving student learning
  • Realism--effective leaders are able to assess what state their school is in and realize the steps it is going to take to get the school to the point of the shared vision of the school community.


Burello, L. C., Lashley, C., & Beatty, E. E. (2001). Educating all students together: How school leaders create unified systems. Thousand Oaks: Corwin Press.

Senge, P.M. (2007). 'Give me a lever long enough...and single-handed I can mopve the world'. In The Jossey-Bass reader on educational leadership (2nd ed., pp. 3-15). San Francisco: John Wiley & Sons.

Sergiovanni, T.J. (2007). Leadership as stewardship: "Who's serving who?". In The Jossey-Bass reader on educational leadership (2nd ed., pp. 75-92). San Francisco: John Wiley & Sons.


  1. I love Peter Senge. Andrea, what do you think the problem would be if the vision was not "shared?" Who would take ownership?

  2. I checked out the Fifth Discipline from our library in order to my Week 3 presentation and I ended up ordering my own copy!!!

    I think this whole issue is resonating with me so much this year because at our school's Instructional Leadership Week this summer (in July), my principal distributed laminated cards with "our" vision for this year! I had to laugh because it is too upsetting otherwise. There is nothing wrong with the "vision" but she thought it up, typed it up on nice little cards, distributed it to the leadership team and "we" are in charge of taking it to the staff at the August preservice. Because it is not a "shared vision" it lacks realism. I don't how long we will remember it through the year, because we don't "own" the vision. I really don't know how the staff will react, but I am sure people will try to buy in, just don't think the commitment will be there to make it enduring....