10 Principles for Principals

KellerAspiring Leaders Convention, Leadership 1 Comment

The Leader as the CLO – Chief Learning Officer

10 Principles for Principals that all school leaders need to master to run a successful organisation.

Number 1 – Develop Clear Sight

1. Develop Clear Sight

Vision is the roadmap to get to your destination.  The Principal must have a clear vision before she can lead others.  When the leader becomes so bewildered by the day-to-day running of a school, then the ability to see the big picture fades. Without clear sight there is no vision.  Expect a leadership vacuum to develop and it will often be filled with a poor leader looking for an opportunity to manipulate the environment. Clear sighted leaders are always able to create opportunities for their team to shine.

 “The most important measure of how good a game I played was how much better I’d made my teammates play.” 

Bill Russell (Legendary Basket Ball player)

Number 2 – Generate Trust Trust is created.  It is earned.

Principle 2 - Generate Trust

Colleagues trust their principal when he/she shares their hopes and dreams with his staff.  If the roadmap is laid out for all to see and the hopes and dreams are verbalised, trust is generated.  This roadmap needs to be simple to understand and leaders encourage their team to consider different points of view and perspectives to make it better, then there is buy-in.

Number 3 – Build Leaders

Principle 3 - Build Leaders

Schools don’t needs management teams, they require Leadership Teams.  Leaders are built.  They need a strong foundation and are raised brick by brick.  

Chief Learning Officers (CLO’s) often step back and allow the Leaders under construction to take control.  Always select leaders who will fill in for the CLO’s weaknesses.  Their giftings bring strength to the team and the entire organisation benefits.

Number 4 – Grow Thinkers

Principle 4 - Grow Thinkers

Professional development is a non-negotiable.  Budget a percentage of the wage bill for investment in human capital.  CLO’s make sure that their staff are always at the cutting edge of education thought leadership.

Remember, competency is the product of (How we teach) X (What we teach).  If new pedagogies are not consistently presented and implemented, then the curriculum has little or no value.

Number 5 – Tell Stories

Principle 5 - Tell Stories

Great CLO’s are engaging storytellers.  This principle, however, includes telling stories and listening to the history.  The CLO knows the history of the school so that he/she is equipped to lead the change.

Number 6 – Encourage Imperfection

Principle 6 - Encourage Imperfections

A culture free of fear provides a space where failure is supported and success celebrated.  There must be no fear of failure.  Remember, the light shines through the cracks.

“There’s a crack, there’s a crack in everything.  That’s how the light gets in.”

Leonard Cohen

Number 7 – Model the Behaviours Required

Principle 7 - Model the Behaviours Required

Don’t do as I say – Do what I do!  Laugh often, smile regularly, plan diligently, arrive timeously, praise precisely, deliver by deadline and celebrate energetically.  Teachers love to be led by a leader who lives his/her demands and is viewed as having a servant mentality.  

Number 8 – Fill in the Blanks

Principle 8 - Communication counts

Make time to explain WHY.  Avoid lengthy meetings, but always provide staff with the reason behind a decision.  Blanket directives have little or no value.  They often result in confusion and resentment.

A quick email or a whatsApp message to your staff thanking them for their commitment and giving the reason for a new directive builds a sense of appreciation and empowerment.  Always make sure teachers are the first to know.  Professionals left in the dark lose faith in the leader. Communication counts.

Number 9 – Take Time

Principle 9 - Time Take

Great change does not happen over night.  Build slowly, with confidence and give regular feedback.  Never fill the glass with more demands unless you make space by removing something else.

Number 10 – Be Courageous

Principle 10 - Be Courageous

Leadership is not for the faint-hearted or weak spirited.  It requires endless courage to deal with difficult issues.  


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