The five major qualities of a good school leader

by Brett Henebery11 Mar 2015

Rather than sifting through the myriad of existing studies into effective leadership, why not take a look at the breakdown?

Dr Kathryn Holmes, senior lecturer at University of Newcastle, says that after reviewing numerous research studies into what makes a good school principal, she found “a broad agreement” as to the best leadership qualities.

In an article published on the Australian Association for Research in Education (AARE) website, Holmes reduced the list down to five “major qualities”.

 
Lead the creation of a shared vision

Firstly principals need to be able to lead the creation of a shared vision for their school. It should have a clear moral purpose and achievable goals. School staff need to feel as though they have had a big say in what that vision is and how it will be achieved.
 
Pay attention to those you work with

Secondly, principals should pay attention to the individual people they are working with. Building relationships is important. Not only should principals develop trust between each member and themselves but they should also help build a feeling of trust among staff members in general. Principals should get to know each staff member well enough to be able to help and encourage them with their teaching work.
 
Draw on multiple sources of information to solve problems

Thirdly, they should draw on multiple sources of information to solve problems as they arise. This is not just a matter of building a network of people to go to for help or advice but to be open to looking at a wide range of data about the school and its performance. It also means principals need to be flexible enough to change school procedures and arrangements where necessary.
 
Have a sustained focus on the core business of schooling

Fourthly principals should have a sustained focus on the core business of schooling, that is, teaching and learning.
 
See beyond the school walls

Lastly principals need to be able to see beyond the school walls. They should understand and be able to build links with their local community. They should be aware of the political landscape within which the school and community operates.
 

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