Leading a school and its students is a task that is complex and changing daily. The forces, both external and internal, place a demand upon leaders time and management. Leaders who are successful are those that are intentional in their practices including how they spend their time, where they place their energy and what is the focus of their work. High Level leaders have Core Values that guide their work and serve as the focus as they strive for excellence. It is through these Core Values that leaders are able to be consistent in their work and have a laser-like focus. If someone does not operate with Core Values, despite great effort, the person may make improvement but the impact will not always be with the same magnitude and may not be consistent, so the overall impact will be less. When leaders take the time to reflect, process and understand what their Core Values are, then their impact as a leader is magnified and the school community wins.
Listed below are some areas that leaders may consider to develop as their Core Values. You may notice there is some overlap but also notice how it creates an intentional focus to the work which then allows for greater reflection, feedback, improvement and impact to occur over time.
Core Values consist of:
- Core Beliefs
- Key Skills
- Key Tenants
- Understanding of “The right work”
Core Beliefs – These are the key areas that leaders use to set their daily purpose and lead the way with leadership within the organization. For most leaders, this is how they find their daily impact and reflect if they are operating from their core beliefs. The # and type of core beliefs will vary from 1 person to the next, but the purpose by having Core Beliefs is that the leader has reflected and truly understands the intentionality of their work.
For me, my Core Beliefs are:
All comes back to Relationships
Be Student Centered
Model the Way
2. Key Skills – This describes the skills or leverage points the leader uses to make an impact upon the organization. It reflects the “doing” part of the job and places an emphasis on action oriented work. Once again, the skills may vary from 1 individual to the next due to the level of the role and the system, but if a leader can recognize the skills that are necessary to impact and develop others, then they can be consistent in their approach and that is the driver of change within the organization.
My Key skills are:
- Culture (always work on connecting with others and help them feel valued and create positivity)
- Communication (this is an essential piece to creating a shared vision with the school community)
- Challenge the Status Quo ( if we want students to take risks, then our teachers must take risks and they will only do that if their leader take risks)
- Visibility (this may be most important to staff and parents – leaders lead from their feet, not their seat)
- Relationships (this is a necessity in quality schools and in many cases occurs when situations are tense and there is potential conflict; in those moments it is not about “who is right” but about “how can we partner together in the best interest of your child”).
3. Key Tenants – This describes how a leader is systematic and understands the complex levels to creating a quality school. It requires that a leader is constantly trying to see things from different perspectives and understanding that it is a process and takes time.
My Key Tenants are:
- Foster Effective Relationships (foundation of our work)
- Visionary Leadership (understanding where the school is currently at and where it needs to go)
- Instructional Leadership (a leader does not have to know everything, but they must be a learner and learn with their staff on latest researched based practices)
- Developing Others (great schools exist because of its people and leaders will only have true impact if they develop others within their organization)
- Creating sustainable change (as leaders make change they must ensure that the resources and people to make the change exist so the work can carry forward)
4. The “Right Work” – this reflects that leaders understand that the work will never end and there are always things to do – but meaningful change happens only if the focus is on the levers that lead to creating systems and structures of impact for others. Leaders on some days will get pulled into management type aspects that must be completed, but by having an understanding of “the right work” then leaders can gravitate back to the focus that is needed for positive change. This may vary once again based on a leader’s journey and their role.
Here is my “right work”
- Develop a shared vision
- Empower others to act
- Challenge the status quo
- Model the change
- Enlarge the heart (care about each other)
True leadership occurs by intentional efforts when leaders work extremely hard to improve their own learning and that leads to an improved school. By reflecting upon “What are your Core Values”, leaders can self-analyze if we are spending our efforts towards the important and right work. It is never too late to change or adapt to create something better. We owe that to our students and staff that we serve. Comment below or reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org