Leadership Strategies during complex times 

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In a school leader’s role there are many complexities to the role that have changed in recent years. These challenges impact a leader’s work and how someone responds will determine the impact staff can have with students. Ultimately, it will determine the levels of student learning with your school.

The complexities that have greatly increased in recent years include:

  • Difficulty finding teachers
  • Increased frequency of unfilled para roles and unfilled subs
  • Student attendance issues
  • More frequent student behaviors
  • Lack of time for staff to implement new strategies into the work
  • Changing staff mindsets from fixed to growth mindset where growth is the priority
  • Student learning and SEL vs Student Achievement levels
  • Outside forces of society impacting our work/focus as school leaders
  • Technology impact and social media 
  • Family involvement

Leaders can move their school forward by focusing on what matters most – the people within the school and helping each person become their best version of themselves and focus on growth.  Leaders must focus on both what they can control and what matters most.  In the book by Barry Posner and James Kouzes book The Leadership Challenge, the authors discussed researched proven strategies that help organizations move forward and leaders to be their best.  This work is most essential as it allows the following:

  • Transform values into action
  • Transform vision into realities 
  • Change obstacles to innovation
  • Go from isolation to solidarity
  • Go from risks to wins 

Here are the 5 strategies leaders can incorporate into their work of leading schools that helps the leader to be their best and having the greatest influence. 

  1. Model the way

Leaders establish the principles of how

  • People should be treated.
  • Work towards excellence.
  • Set the example of how people act, interact and behave.

In other words, a leader leads by example and how someone acts, interacts and behaves impacts the climate and culture. 

  1. Inspire a collective vision

Leaders believe they can make a difference but recognize they cannot do this alone. We must see the work through the eyes of others. Leaders create an image of what the school can become and then through their influence, connections, and listening they enlist the help of others to make this happen. This will breathe life into the vision and get people excited to see the possibilities for the future.

  1. Strive for continual improvement

The leader searches for ways to improve, takes risks and generates small wins to build momentum in the positive change. Things to remember include:

  • Leaders make things happen – so you must be action oriented and take initiative.
  • Innovation requires more listening and greater communication than routine work.
  • Leaders are the most passionate learners.
  1. Shared leadership 

Leaders must foster collaboration by building trust, facilitating relationships and developing others’ capacity as leaders.

Leaders develop trust by:

  • Demonstrate competence in your role
  • Lead with character and model vulnerability
  • Make Communication a priority
  • Be Transparent 

Leaders empower others by:

  • Be firm with principles, flexible with practices
  • Ask questions, don’t give answers
  • Help others develop confidence in themselves
  • Give feedback and positive affirmation when appropriate 
  1. Connect back to the heart

Leaders express pride in their school and leadership is truly a “Labor of Love”. There will be many challenges but we must remember that we are working with people and if we  treat each staff member like a “10” then they themselves will believe in themselves and help contribute to the work and be happier as well. To this end, you must value people, magnify their strengths and develop a culture of “people – not programs”.

Expect the best in others by:

  • Show them you believe in themselves
  • Be clear about your expectations
  • Give Feedback
  • Personalize recognition 
  • Get close to people – get to know their strengths 

Leaders recognize that their efforts and work are important to a school. But to create the biggest gains, the leaders must understand how to lead during complex times as our roles have greatly changed in recent years.  Now is the time to put intentional practices in place.  This takes an investment of time, energy and effort and pouring into others.  Educators must remember that nothing is easy. In fact, if you want to create a difference then you must be willing to not only lead yourself but learn how to best support your people. This creates the greatest gift a leader can provide to an organization.  It is never too late to change or adapt to create something better. We owe that to our students and staff that we serve. I encourage you to reflect and better understand your role so you can leave your legacy. Comment below or reach out to me at leadlearnerperspectives@gmail.com








Published by

A Husband, Father and Principal with a focus on learning, leading and connecting with others.

An educator for 25 years with 14 of those being a building administrator. I have found that the more I learn form others and their experiences it helps me grow and learn as well. I hope you join our journey as we create learning environments for students and staff that create future success.

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