We need leaders who can create a “can do” culture and engage teachers, students and parents alike in the challenges that confront schools. Leadership in challenging situations is about getting all the stakeholders to work together in difficult times and engaging them to find solutions to problems, whether human, financial or educational.
In a couple of schools I have worked, the head teachers (or principals as we call them in New Zealand) positioned themselves as more akin to a CEO as opposed to the lead educator/teacher in the school. The result- most staff didn't value the leadership decisions made as it often appeared bereft of educational evidence and value. When these head teachers departed, there was more a feeling of relief than sadness.
The article goes on:
To create high-performing schools with an effective wellbeing culture requires school leaders to be socially and interpersonally skilled, to engage their staff, pupils and parents, to manage change effectively and to be passionate, proactive and positive.
Any good to great teacher, let alone a senior leader knows the importance of displaying a genuine empathy and respect for the school community. When teachers and the students and parents feel valued and considered by school leadership, the buy-in can be monumental in size and sustainability.
There's a saying in education "A school can be run down in as little as 3-4 years while it can take up to 7-8 years plus to repair." The best school leaders I have worked for and with, consistently value their staff as individuals and key to the organisation's overall success. I myself like to think that I have consistently respected people over positions, although this can cause a degree of grief at certain times.As it notes in the extract above, it is often the emotional intelligence skills of school leaders that make or break staff or indeed a school or the community of the school. Strong administrative and/or financial/strategic skills can only take a leader so far and in most cases, the leader's ability in this skills is often not visible to other staff. It is also so true that if the school leader is not enthusiastic and passionate for the organisation, it can come as no surprise when others fail to be committed emotionally as well.
The Guardian again:
The way forward is for headteachers to involve staff, from initial discussions of options for change through to decision making. If teachers are not involved in decisions, they will not fully implement the changes, disengage or find another job where their opinions and input are valued.
So true! Teachers if fully involved in a decision-making process may still not like the ultimate decision or outcome but at the very least, will have awareness of the process, constraints and arguably some acceptance of fair process and consideration. In my opinion, head teachers (or principals) become far more influential when they cede some of the decision-making power and process and also do much to gain respect as one of and for the school as much as any teacher.