Lead from any position

Take a think about a leader who has inspired you, what are their traits? What makes them a good leader? Often, there are misconceptions about what it truly means to be a leader, and these are often transcribed in education to becoming a manager. The meaning can be found in the root of each word, and here are my basic definitions.

Lead – Verb: to initiative an action; an example of others to follow.

Manage – Verb: to be in control of others; to be in charge.

In education, the most prolific and influential people are not those who can ‘manage’ people, yes this is a necessary skill for many leaders, however those think outside the box, and are willing to try something different are seen as leaders. There are two key types of leadership in education which are well researched, Transformational and Instructional. I have compiled a comparison list of traits for you to better understand what type of leader should aspire to be.

Transformative Leadership

  • Displays a clear and shared vision with staff, students and community
  • Builds capacity within staff, drawing from strengths and weaknesses.
  • Shares responsibility of roles
  • Empowers others to take opportunities to lead and fail

Instructional Leadership

  • Controls and supervisors
  • Manages staff by controlling and overseeing
  • Often too focused on the power of the position
  • Decisions made on the premise of their knowledge alone.

When you read through these traits, I often relate leadership in schools to teachers and students to the classroom itself. As a teacher do you give your students, knowledge and expect them to learn? Do you think you are never wrong and not allow them opportunities to fail? Are you clear with your expectations, and help them achieve them together, as a partnership? Many of these teaching practices were common in educational systems of the past and not that of most classrooms today. Of course there are elements of both Transformative and Instructional leadership that make sense, so is there a possible way to blend the two together? Take a think back to the leader who inspired you, do they possess elements of styles?

So what type of leader do you want to be?

Further reading
Michael Fullan – http://michaelfullan.ca/books/
Fullan, M. (2002). The change leader. Educational Leadership, 59(8), 16-20.
Hallinger, P. (2003). Leading educational change: Reflections on the practice of instructional and transformational leadership. Cambridge Journal of Education, 33(3), 331-351.
Eric Sheninger – http://ericsheninger.com/esheninger?sid=28

Leave a Reply