According to researchers Bell & Smith, “educational leaders come in more varieties than crayons in the deluxe box.”
This suggests that there is not a single set of qualities to be found in all leaders, all the time. As a result of this, effective instructional leadership can vary depending on each unique situation. Nevertheless, many of us will agree that the most effective leaders usually put instruction first and strive to build positive relationships with their staff.
Below are a few tips that may be helpful for you to land your first role as an instructional leader/education manager.
Build strong relationships: Stephen Covey states, “Real leadership power comes from an honorable character and from certain power tools and principles. If you want to be recognized as a leader you should start cultivating relations built on dependability, reliability, respect and trust.” This may seem like a basic tip, but it demonstrates good work ethic when you are punctual and courteous to other co-workers. Avoid staffroom gossip and focus on being trustworthy. Approach your tasks with a positive attitude and a build a vision that others can get behind.
Attitude is contagious: The laws of physics help to explain this tip. Positive energy essentially works as a magnet and attracts more positive energy. Be aware of the effect of your own energy. Focus on understanding how to spread and direct positive energy to neutralize or overpower negative energy. Focus on positive behaviors and build others up with praise and support. Help others see their true potential. Always try to have an upbeat attitude, and as Covey suggests, “seek to believe in unseen potential.” Positive energy can be a catalyst for change. It can motivate and encourage others.
Volunteer: Ask your principal or vice principal for opportunities to share best practices with your colleagues. One of the absolute best ways to show that you’re ready for a leadership role is to find small ways to manage people or projects. Offer to help plan a professional learning session or volunteer with co-workers to put on a school or after-school event, or perhaps sponsor a school club. It may seem like a large investment of time, but this is the perfect opportunity to practice and build your management skills. As you take on more responsibility, and follow through with successful results, you’ll prove that you’re committed to the growth and development of your team, and will do what it takes to get things done. Most importantly, you’ll start being viewed as a team leader and your management potential will shine through.
Be a life long learner: Effective leaders may not know everything. However, they read, take classes, listen to others, seek training and consistently seek to improve their circle of knowledge and mastery. Leaders who are dedicated to developing their knowledge will quickly discover that their competency in an area can quickly become expertise. She/he starts to discover new interests and skills to master. Once you have mastered new skills, offer to share them with your colleagues.
Taking on a management role is never easy. There will be ups and downs, but all the best journeys are full of adventures. The following are a few authors that can help you, as you begin your journey to leadership: Stephen Covey, Todd Whitaker, Michael Fullan, John Adair and Tommy Weir.
By Chassie Selouane