What Makes A Successful Educational Leader?

Educational leaders are crucial. They are the backbone of any school they are a part of, providing not only excellent leadership but for advice, information, innovations, and informing the attitude and atmosphere of the school as a whole. Without good educational leaders, schools could not grow and thrive, and the children within them would not be able to reach their full potential, no matter how much hard work they put in. Learning is always going to be a joint effort, and with a good educational leader at the helm, everyone else, from teachers to students, will stand a much better chance of getting where they want to be.

Bad school leadership will clearly have the opposite effect. Having little to no leadership will undermine everything that anyone else is attempting to achieve. Children won’t be nurtured or challenged, their minds won’t be built up to allow them to think well for themselves, and the educational system, in general, will be lacking and compromised. So, although teachers themselves are absolutely vital, good educational leadership is just as important. If everyone can work together, children can have an education they can use to great effect, going on to do whatever it is they want to do in life.

The question is, however, what is it that makes a good school leader compared to a bad one? What traits should an educational leader have to ensure they are doing a good job and helping both students and teachers in the school they are leading? There is no one answer to this; educational leaders must have a variety of different skills and talents. With that in mind, if this is a career you can see yourself enjoying, and you want to make a real difference, read on to find out more about what you’ll need to do to be the best educational leader you can be.

They Know That Building Communities Is Important

The best school leaders are those who are able to create true communities within their particular educational institution. That means a community that involves everyone, such as teachers, students, parents, and even administration and janitorial staff. Everyone needs to feel as though they belong somewhere, and school is a safe and secure environment for that to happen no matter how old the child might be, how good a home life they have, or even if the person in question has completed their education and are now working in the school as an adult.

School communities are when done well, able to offer partnerships and offer a caring, inclusive place for people to be. This is important, as it means that learning becomes more than a chore for children; school becomes a place they want to be, and they will achieve more because they are happy where they are with the people they are with.

As for the teachers, when there is a good community around them, they will feel trust – they know the educational leaders are going to support them in their endeavors. Plus, the children’s families will also feel happy to send their children into school each day, knowing that the community atmosphere will help them to mature, grow, and learn.

They Are Lifelong Learners

Although there are many excellent qualities and traits that an educational leader will need to possess or learn, having a love of learning and a thirst for knowledge is one of the most important. Many different sectors have changes within them, but education might be the one that changes the most. Think back to when you were at school compared to the children of today; it could be that not a lot of time has passed, and yet the school day, the lessons, the way things are done – particularly when it comes to technology – would be unrecognizable to most adults today.

Knowing this is the case and being prepared to learn as much as possible about the changes coming in order to implement them in the right way and keep your school up to date so that no one is left behind is one of the main tasks given to any educational leader. It all starts with the right qualification, so this is what you need to research first. It is possible to obtain a Doctorate in Education (EdD) online with no GRE requirement, so if you are changing careers and want to get started sooner rather than later, this is a good option, for example. No matter what stage in life you want to become an educational leader, there will be options for you, and the learning starts then.

The learning should never stop. As we’ve said, being a lifelong learner is something that all educational leaders need to do and be. You need to understand that you will never know everything and that because the educational system is changing all the time, there will always be new ideas to look into and, in some cases, implement. Knowing which ones are important to your team and pupils and which would be a waste of time and money is all part of the job of an educational leader, and this will come with time and experience, and continuing to learn will help you achieve all of this.

They Empower Teachers

If you think that being an educational leader is all about coming up with a plan and then telling people what to do to achieve the results you want, you’re going to need to think again. Although planning is certainly part of good educational leadership (there will be more on this later), simply telling people what you want them to do is never a good way to lead, no matter what industry you might be working in. In fact, in many cases, when a leader just throws out a lot of instructions and expects people to follow the list without question, this is when the problem occurs and when the leadership starts to fail.

It’s far better to come up with a plan in consultation with the people with who you want to implement the changes. In this way, not only can you be sure that the ideas will work and be followed, but you are also empowering the teachers in your charge.

Good leadership is never about working alone; it’s simply not possible to be a good leader in isolation. When you are an educational leader, it’s essential you know that you need to have a good team around you who want to help and who are willing to do what you ask because they were consulted, or they understand what needs to be done because you have explained it all well. Being a good leader means supporting your staff and helping them achieve the best; this will often mean helping staff become more self-sufficient and confident enough to raise concerns, questions, and put forward ideas that can be implemented if it makes sense for that to happen. While you are continuously learning, you can help your team to do the same.

They Utilize Data

Data is a big part of all our lives. You’ll see it everywhere; you’re either collecting it or using it, and often you’re doing both depending on the career you happen to have. Educational leaders also need to use data in the right way, and when they do so, they can achieve a lot more and be much better leaders because of it. They can also help the teachers on their team and the children in their care a lot more because using data well means the school will always be an excellent educational facility that never falls down or falls behind.

What kind of data is used by educational leaders to the best effect? One type of data would be school assessments and standardized testing results. Looking at these results will give the educational leader a good idea of the general level of teaching and will enable them to put measures in place to improve things should that be required. They will also look at the diversity represented in the school and use that information to ensure that every student will be benefitted from the decisions made. Plus, there are many other pieces of information and data that will come together to give the educational leader a much better overview of the school and what needs to happen to improve, as well as what needs to stay the same because it’s working well.

They Have A Plan

If you want to be a good educational leader, you’ll need to be able to plan well and be a visionary – you’ll need to have a goal in mind and work out exactly how to get there (while being flexible; sometimes plans have to change depending on what new information and ideas might come about during the process).

As well as having a goal and knowing where you want the school you are leading to get to, you’ll need to be able to articulate that plan and all your ideas in the best way so that your team understands what the ultimate aims are and therefore follow what you are asking of them. If they know what you want and how you intend to get there, they will be more willing to put their own ideas forward to help reach the goals at the right time.

Making a plan is not something that can – or should – be done quickly. It will take time and effort, and you’ll need to put a lot of research and hard work into your planning for your educational facility. No matter what outcomes you are looking for, you’ll need to understand every step of the way towards them.

They Are Passionate

Passion is an important trait for most people if they want to do well in their careers, and it’s not just limited to educational leadership. However, the educational system is notoriously difficult to get to grips with, and it can be hard to stay positive when so many changes have to take place, often quickly, or when disappointment arises, as it sometimes can. If you were expecting an important piece of legislation to help move things forward for you and it doesn’t come, is delayed, or is voted down, this can be a hard thing to deal with.

Yet despite all of this, educational leaders must be able to keep their passion and keep moving forward. They must be able to get past the obstacles in their way and keep heading towards the ultimate goal they have planned for, even if the route itself has to change somewhat.

Passion isn’t just for you, so you can keep going even when times are hard. Passion is often seen as contagious; if you are passionate about what you’re doing, you’ll find that you can more easily have people follow your lead. If you can ensure others have the same passion as you for ensuring all children get a good education, you can be sure that your school is a good one and that all students who pass through it are getting all the knowledge and help they need.

They Encourage Risk-Taking

Failure isn’t something you are going to expressly look for as an educational leader; it would be better not to have it and to move forward much more positively. However, failure can be an excellent teacher, which is why risk-taking is important. The best educational leaders will encourage their teachers to take risks, even if there is no guarantee of a positive outcome. They will know that taking risks is the best way to get ahead and that by staying still – staying in their comfort zones – they might not fail, but they won’t necessarily succeed very well either.

The last thing you want to do is discourage anyone from trying new things, even if you think it might not work. That doesn’t mean your team should have carte blanche to do whatever they want, of course – you must always be there to determine the usefulness of any idea – but it does mean that you should make people aware that you encourage risk-taking (to some degree) and that failure is not a bad thing if it can be used to grow.