Effective modern leadership

We all carry pictures in our minds of what we think great leaders look like. But how far do our actions reflect ‘what works’ or are we just winging it day by day? Perhaps you imagine a good leader as a firm but fair person, bestriding the corridors, or a new broom with a hundred new ideas for change. In some cases, such leaders inspire from the front, while others encourage from the back. We read about leaders as ‘servants of the community’, ‘firestarters’, and ‘rockstars’, dinosaurs, coaches and networkers. If we are looking for guidelines on how to become a leader ourselves, it can all feel quite exhausting!

Search for ‘school leadership’ in Google and you can browse over 650 million results so clearly this is fertile ground for exploration – but, perhaps, also for uncertainty. There is no definitive list of what an effective modern leader ought to be doing. To lead in school – and I don’t necessarily suggest that this is just the senior management team – you find yourself spinning a myriad of different plates: policy, staffing and support for people, vision for learning and the strategy to reach it, resourcing and building management, working with Boards or school stewards, financial management… the list goes on and it’s a complex one.

While not all research papers agree on guidelines for what makes the ‘effective modern leaders’, what they do agree on is the pivotal role of the leader in effecting change:

“[Leadership] plays a key role in improving school outcomes by influencing the motivations and capacities of teachers, as well as the school climate and environment. Effective school leadership is essential to improve the efficiency and equity of schooling.” (OECD, 2008)…


This article was originally published in the ‘From the Deputy’s Desk’ column in LeadershipED NZ (Term 4 2018), published by EducationHQ. The opening of the article is published here with permission.

To read the rest, sign up to EducationHQ’s Hub; it’s free for schools. Direct link to the full article is here: https://nz.educationhq.com/dashboard/list/publications/14/issue/190/


Image source: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Southeast Region ‘Whooping cranes follow ultralights leaving Alabama’ CC BY 2.0


One thought on “Effective modern leadership

  1. Hi Karen,

    I liked this post and have forwarded it to several former colleagues who I am sure will find it thought provoking.

    Many thanks, Marianne.


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