I think a lot about the qualities and habits of good Principals and Assistant Principals because I hope to be one some day. Soon. So, I spend a lot of time analyzing the behavior and outcomes of good and bad leaders of all kinds. In doing so, certain patterns of behavior have emerged among both the good and the bad.

Here, obviously, I’m only concerned with the habits and practices of good leaders.  I want to know, share, and do what they do well. Perhaps in another post I’ll wax poetic about the habits and practices of bad leaders. That might make for a comical read. Although, perhaps not.

I think in order to be an effective leader, your people (staff, students, parents, etc.) have to see you as credible first. They have to believe that you have the skills and experience to be in charge. Essentially, you’re answering the burning question in every team member’s mind, has this person earned the right to lead me?

Over the years I’ve observed and collected about 15 practices of effective/credible leaders. I’ll only share 4 of them here because (a) I don’t want to write a 20,000 word post and (b) I may want to write a book some day.  These aren’t presented in any particular order of importance either.

Model Expected Behavior:

Basically, your team members will listen to what you say, but they’ll remember and watch what you do. If timeliness matters to you, be on time. If lesson planning is important to you, make sure you’re checking them and providing feedback.

Hire Good People and Get Out of Their Way:

If you hire someone for a specific set of skills, let them use those skills to make you look good. Don’t micro-manage people. That type of behavior communicates a lack of trust and respect. And it stifles creativity.

Make Staff Development a Priority: 

Strong leaders develop their people…on purpose. They speak with them about their professional goals and provide them with opportunities to accomplish those goals. They turn role players into leaders, thereby increasing their own influence and creating loyalty amongst their circle of influence.

Never Forget What It Means to be a Teacher:

If I had to put these habits in order, I would put this first. Educational leaders who forget how challenging it is to be a teacher tend to make poor decisions. In order to avoid this, leaders should occasionally teach a class, work summer school as a teacher, coach a team, or mentor children who are not students in the school where you are an administrator. Putting yourself in the shoes of the people you lead will ensure that you always have a healthy respect for the work they do. And it makes you as credible as can be with your staff.

As always. Thanks for reading. Forgive my errors.

4 Habits of Credible Educational Leaders
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One thought on “4 Habits of Credible Educational Leaders

  • June 17, 2015 at 12:06 pm

    I agree that credibility in the eyes of one’s staff is important and predicates your listed habits. Your 4th habit resonates with me. I would find it hard to trust and support a principal with little teaching experience. If only because I do not want to be lead by a person who cannot meet their own expectations. As teachers, we preform best when we view our classroom from the perspective of our students and I wish the same philosophy trickled down through all levels of the educational system.


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