Educational leadership is indeed a craft that is not done effectively without a multi-dimensional approach. I believe that in order to have a positive impact on our students to help them find their unique gifts and talents to be successful adults, educational leaders need to be effective at creating a path to support our learners. As an educational leader, I will use my heart as a guide to foster relationships with others to empower them to want to have the confidence to be champions for students. I will share a vision towards positive change and inspire others to follow by modeling the way. I will take an open-minded approach to leadership, ensuring to collaborate with all diverse stakeholders to create a climate of trust that will result in a positive approach to change. I also hold the belief that adequate leadership is a constant work in progress, continual improvement and sharpening of skills is necessary to keep up with educational trends as they evolve.
Educational leadership is a responsibility. It cannot be just words, but driven by actions to support the language one uses. Huber (2004) adds that this responsibility is one that determines “development of a positive school culture”, which is of utmost important in terms of student achievement. People can be said to have good or bad leadership, but it cannot be summed up into a one-dimensional term. In more likely terms, a person may be bad in an aspect of leadership, but I believe that every individual performs at least one aspect of leadership effectively. These leadership qualities are not developed all at once, but improved upon with time. Educational leadership is not something that one ever achieves perfection at, but continues to improve upon with time and the ever-changing trends within education. The purpose for educational leadership is manifold; it has to create educational success for students through a rich learning environment while delegating responsibilities to empower others to carry out the mission for our students. I believe that educational leadership encompasses multiple dimensions of ethics and values and is an endless cycle of collaboration that needs continuous improvement to be effective. The verse from John 3:30, “He must become greater; I must become less,” is the truest way to represent my philosophy of leadership.
PHILOSOPHY OF EDUCATIONAL LEADERSHIP
Theorists have different visions on leadership and why it is necessary. In educational leadership, it makes sense that leaders support the behavioral theory of leadership. Behavior theorists believe that leadership skills can be improved upon with education, training, and experiences. As an educator who believes that students are all capable of finding their unique gifts and talents, I also support that as leaders we can improve upon the skills necessary to be effective at reaching goals as a leader. Additional theories, such as the trait theory also suggest that a leader is made up of inherent, specific traits necessary to lead others. I do agree that there are certain traits that are necessary to be an effective educational leader, but over time and with attention to improving these skills one can become leadership worthy. Another theory is that leaders are simply born, not made. Amanchukwu, Stanley, and Ololube (2015) refer to this as the “Great Man” theory, in which a person either has leadership qualities at birth or not at all. I tend to disagree with this approach, as I can attest that even within my own self that my leadership qualities have improved with each additional opportunity I have undertaken. Using a philosophy that aligns with the Christian School Leadership Framework (2014) is most desirable to me. The framework models three major categories to educational leadership- leadership from the heart, relational competencies, and strategic competencies. I believe to fulfill a position of leadership effectively; one must lead from the heart, with ethics and character in mind. Following the behavioral theory of leadership, I expect relational competencies are also integral to ensure leadership is a team effort. Finally, strategic competencies needed to manage tasks also come into play.
With a belief in the relational model of leadership, I will focus on five primary goals as mentioned by Komives, Lucas, and McMahon in their book, Exploring Leadership for College Students Who Want to Make A Difference (1998). My first leadership goal will be to include others. I will make collaboration a top priority to ensure a rich culture of backgrounds are used to ensure all have the opportunity to make a difference in our school community. I will also work to empower others, to help them build their confidence in their own leadership skills. Challenging others to take responsibility for tasks where their own talents can shine will be necessary to empower. Next I will be purposeful, modeling the vision at every step. This will require a positive attitude and open-mindedness to new ideas and a pathway to a clear mission and vision. I will also work to follow an ethical lifestyle, ensuring good character is a priority and an expectation that I have of others. Finally, I will work to be process-oriented. I should remain organized and able to effectively collaborate, providing warm and cool feedback to challenge self-improvement of others. These aspects of leadership are also supported by the practices in Kouzes & Posner’s, The Leadership Challenge (2017), in which the authors see leaders as people who can “ model the way, inspire a shared vision, challenge the process, enable others to act, and encourage the heart.” It is by using these strategies that I hope to use my skills in educational leadership to help our youth discover their unique gifts and talents through positive school climate and rich academic instruction.
Kouzes & Posner (2017) maintain, “Collaboration is a critical competency for achieving and sustaining high performance.” This means that educational leaders should have the passion to want to create a unified vision for their organization, but also the collaborative skills necessary to create a climate of trust amongst faculty members. In creating a climate of trust the leader should seek to get input from all parties involved in changes. For instance, in a situation where an educational leader seeks to change the climate of a school, they should seek input from faculty, students, parents, and other school stakeholders to truly make a positive impact. In Proverbs 27:17, (The English Standard Version) it says, “Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another”. Without collaboration with invested parties, the climate of trust would be broken and one could inadvertently breed cynicism in those that are responsible for supporting the vision. As an educational leader who seeks input from others, faculty members will also be more apt to share ideas that could result in continued positive improvement of the organization.
With collaboration, comes diversity. Leaders need to also be open-minded to diverse opinions and feedback. “Rapidly changing demographics demand that we engage in a vigorous, ongoing, and systemic process of professional development to prepare all educators in the school to function effectively in a highly diverse environment”(Howard, 2007). I believe an educational leader needs to look towards diversity factors such as gender, race, socioeconomic status, and educational backgrounds as opportunities for excellence. Student populations are diverse and it only seems fitting that as leaders, we select faculty that also represents a diverse population. In Hebrews 12:14 (The English Standard Version) the Bible tells us to, “Strive for peace with everyone, and for the holiness without which no one will see the Lord.” With various backgrounds, a leader can serve populations that they do not have personal experience with, by simply soliciting input from others. Collaborating with diverse populations creates a rich culture where all students and faculty feel accepted. This acceptance can only increase the motivation to uphold the vision of the school.
In conclusion, educational leadership at its core requires not only one person; but also a vast team of diverse individuals with a passion for reaching a shared vision. It is with this thinking, that I hope to reach my goals as an educational leader. I hope to use relationships with others to reach challenging goals and to evoke positive change within an organization. For with this relational model of leadership I can reach the greater good and truly uphold the teaching of John by making others greater, and focusing on myself less. For me this is the only philosophy towards being a truly effective educational leader, helping me to ensure the futures of all of the students I will serve.
Amanchukwu, R.N., Stanley, G.J., Ololube, N.P., (2015). A review of leadership theories, principles and styles and their relevance to educational management, Management, 5 (1), doi: 10.5923/j.mm.20150501.02
The Christian School Leadership Framework [PDF document]. (2014). Retrieved from Association of Christian Schools International website https://www.acsi.org
Howard, G. R. (2007). As diversity grows, so must we. Educational Leadership, 76 (3).
Huber, S.G. (2004). School leadership and leadership development: Adjusting leadership theories and development programs to values and the core purpose of school. Journal of Educational Administration, 42 (6)
Komives, S, Lucas, N., & McMahon, T. (1998). Exploring leadership for college students who want to make a difference. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.
Kouzes, J. M., & Posner, B. Z. (2017). The leadership challenge: How to make extraordinary things happen in organizations. Hoboken: John Wiley & Sons.
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