Friday, 6 July 2018

11 Essential Traits of a Great School Leader

In my 3 years of school leadership I have learnt a lot about the qualities of a great leader, from my own practice, professional development courses and from working with various leaders, both good and bad. Of course, there are so many traits that a great leader should have and wouldn't it be great if all leaders could be perfect? But they are human and nobody is perfect!

However, I've outlined some traits of a great school leader that are essential.

Accountable - This trait is first because it underlies everything to do with leadership. As a leader, YOU are the only person that the buck falls with. You need to be the person that holds up their hands and accepts mistakes, both yours and your teammates because you are their leader. You need to be decisive in your role, knowing that each decision ultimately falls on you. Don't be the leader that tries to pass the buck, nobody respects that person!

Strategic - It's essential to have a clear view of your team’s end goal. Of course, it’s great to work together as a team, but often the daily activities mean the end goal is pushed aside. As a great leader, it is your job to ensure those important goals are not forgotten and push forward to achieve them.

Organised - Schools are busy and there is always something else to do. In an international school, that pace of life is often so much faster and it can be tough to keep up. A great leader is always ahead of the game! Ensure staff are well aware of deadlines and events and provide them with everything they need so that they can work at their own pace without becoming stressed or missing deadlines. 

Patient - You are a leader because you are already good at your job. Teaching doesn't come naturally to everybody. Your team have different skills, training and levels of experience and will all need different levels of support and explanations. A great leader gives that time, without showing annoyance or frustration, but taking the time to ensure their team members fully understand a task. Time and patience is probably the best form of staff training. 

Supportive - Having a leader that has your back is so important and can completely change confidence levels and performance. People are more willing to take risks and follow their instinct, learning from mistakes if they know that you will support them. 

Inspirational -  A good leader needs to be able to inspire and motivate their team. They need a positive and passionate energy that rubs off onto others and makes them enthusiastic too. Change can be tough and new ideas can be difficult to implement, but if a leader can inspire the team, those changes can become great. 

Good Communicator - There's nothing worse than a leader that expects their team to read their mind is there? Never be that person! A good leader delivers information timely, clearly and effectively. It's important to consider each member of your team as the delivery may differ for each person.

Innovative - This is the key difference between somebody who gets by and somebody who truly leads. You need to be willing to take risks, try new ideas and continue to change, improve and move forward. Bring your own ideas to the table and be the leader that is willing to try out their team members idea, even if you have reservations. What's the worst that could happen?

Appreciative - Teaching is hard work so show your appreciation to your team. Nobody will work hard if their work is not valued. Buy those doughnuts for meetings, give a thank you card to your colleague, recognise achievements in meetings, make time for team building and use your time and power to ease the workload of your team members when necessary. All of these things will lead to a happy, positive and effective environment.

Responsive - This is a biggie! If you tell your leader about an issue, you want to see action quickly. Be the leader that listens and acts on colleagues concerns and ideas. If they are bringing something to you, it's likely because it is a big concern or a great idea that they have gone above and beyond to develop. They best thing you can do to recognise this is to help put a plan into action.

Trustworthy - Your team need to trust you in order to believe in the goals you are selling to them. Always be honest and open with your team members and even when they disagree with a suggestion, they are much more likely to go along with it because you have gained their trust. Trust is essential in maintaining a successful team.

Which traits do you think are key to being a great leader?
Which traits do you struggle with the most? For me it's most definitely patience!

Let me know in the comments below, I'd love to know what you value most in a leader.

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