CHARACTERISTICS OF EFFECTIVE SCHOOL LEADERS
Characteristics of Effective School Leaders
Leadership can refer both to the process of leading, and to those entities that do the leading. Leadership has been a central, and sometimes controversial, topic in the study of organizations. In spite of claims to the contrary, there is substantial evidence that leadership is positively related to a variety of individual and organizational outcomes. Leaders, by their very roles, are responsible for making decisions that help their organizations adapt and succeed in competitive environments. Leaders do not merely impose goals on followers, but work with others to create a shared sense of purpose and direction (2006). In leadership, the implementation of influence process, mould the members or the objectives of the organization, motivation of behavior of the employees for the achievement of those objectives, to the definition of the culture inside the organization. Leadership and management are frequently shared but are also different. Managers and leaders use lawful, reward, coercive, referent, and expert power.
Qualities of an Effective Leader
Every organization structures itself to accomplish its goals in a way that is in tune with or responsive to its environment ( 2002). Once the efficiency of the organization is established, people go about simply maintaining the system, assuming that the environment will stay the same. Management is the main focus because it keeps the organization going well with little change. But the thing is: the environment for any organization is always changing. There are always shifts in consumer tastes, social attitudes, society’s culture, technology, historic events, and so on. The world is not static as we assume. Organizations tend not to spot these changes quickly, often because of a "management orientation" which is focused more on "looking in" instead of "looking out". Over time, the organization can become less and less in tune with or responsive to its environment, creating more and more management problems. Times like this require organizations to think more in terms of leadership ( 2002). Leaders begin to ask questions like, "What is really going on here? How do we become relevant again? How do we fulfill our goals in these new times? What will prompt people to think that what we do is meaningful?" Leaders seek to bring their organization more in line with the realities of their environment, which often necessitates changing the very structures, resources and relationships of their organization which they have worked so long and so hard to manage. And yet, as they do, leaders can bring renewed vitality to their people.
Leaders manage and managers lead, but the two activities are not synonymous. Management functions can potentially provide leadership; leadership activities can contribute to managing (2005). Reflecting based on the above statements made me realize that effective managers do not only administer the people under him/her but should also be a prime initiator of innovation in which tasks and goals of the department and the organization as a whole. As such, managers should be creative as well as discerning when it comes to analyzing and assessing the resources of the company. Developing and evaluating the efficiency of a particular operation strategy will be helpful in maintaining the overall competitiveness of the business organization ( 2003). In effect, being able to contemplate the factors that will greatly influence the success of the business should be highly considered through objective investigation of the current conditions of the business environment particularly the industry to which the company belongs.
Leaders, Teachers and Learners
Teachers have very important roles in our society. They are the ones who cultivate the minds of the students, guiding them in their studies and nurturing their learning capabilities. It is the teacher who manages the lessons and who creates the settings that are helpful in the comprehension of students ( 2002). There is basically a tremendous pressure in what they do because the future of the students depends on how well they perform their responsibilities.
According to (1990), "Teachers are still in a unique position to aid youngsters in making what is probably the most important discovery of all—a discovery of themselves" (). Furthermore, (1997) found that see a good teacher as “…both highly dominant and highly cooperative”. (p. 83). Those student perceptions reflect the three important generalist roles of a teacher, which are: teacher, leader, and counselor. In other words, a teacher should be able to communicate their practice to others in order to have a greater control of their practice. Aside from the ability to communicate efficiently, good teachers use a variety of teaching methods to be flexible with the various learning needs of students ( 2002).
Several questions were developed to identify an effective teacher that can be hired by a school. They are: Can teachers set high and appropriate learning goals for students? Can they develop assignments and instructions that will help their students achieve those learning goals? Can they develop effective assessment methodologies for determining whether their curriculum has met those goals? Do they have the capacity to turn the data from those assessments into information that informs their future instructions? ( 2002). Those questions stress the importance of teachers’ skills and knowledge in raising student performances. Skills and knowledge determine standards and high standards lead to a more effective learning environment. However, it did not stress the role of values and ethics in the effectiveness of teaching. Are values and ethics of teachers important in the delivery of their teaching, specifically the ones they apply in their personal private life? Presently, there is a great debate on whether or not the morality and principles being practiced by teachers in their personal lives affect the quality of their teaching. The morality and principles practiced by one person is a basic issue of right to privacy as democracy advocates freedom of beliefs (Davies and 2005). An individual has the right to choose whatever way of life he or she chooses to practice as long as it does not violate any legal laws. However, in the case of teachers, given that they have the right to choose their standards for morality in their private lives; it may conflict with what they teach in the classroom as their beliefs may contradict with the values and moral fibers that the school promotes. For instance, a teacher who teaches the dangers of smoking but is often spotted puffing a cigarette during breaks by students may create an image of contradiction to what the school teaches. Furthermore, a teacher who constantly teaches respect and discipline to students but fails to practice those values outside the classroom may stir confusion in the heads of students. A teacher is expected to reflect the values and morality of the school he or she serves, but does this mean that the teacher should not have any private lives? On one hand, teachers should be morally responsible to reflect the values of the school; while on the other, they should also have the freedom to live the way they prefer in their private lives. Which should prevail?
To keep going despite set backs, is the hallmark of all successful leaders. A good leader must have a positive attitude, should be optimistic, has ideas, always sees a way out and will not give up easily. They take every mistake as a learning experience ( 2003). Understanding the contexts that surround children is a challenging yet critical step that enables us to describe and deliver appropriate and effective developmental supports for any outcome especially learning. Children develop and learn in a varied milieu of natural environments ranging from the immediate family to the broader aspects of a particular culture (1979). The broader aspect includes the immediate society in which the child lives and of course the school. Once the child is already enrolled in the school, his learning ability depends mostly on the way by which learning in school is facilitated. It is therefore important that during this stage in the child’s life, his ability to learn is enhanced as well as nurtured by the school teacher, the people in the society and the parents.
The children’s ability to learn as facilitated by those involved in the immediate community where they live is presumed to be enhanced. This is the primary basis of most of the learning theories that has been identified through time. The children learn several lessons as they start to interact with the community ( 2002). They learn how to become part of the community. As they growl old, they learn to play a role in the community. These of course, are in addition to the basic lessons that they have to learn in school. That is, learn how to sing, write, perform arithmetic, and solve math problems and others.
Like all kinds of learning, learning how to read, write and speak a certain language is one that involves phases or a step by step process (Davies and 2005). A student, for example, has to learn the alphabet first. Soon, he will be able to form words out of the letters.
A good leader to young children and families should have the following characteristics, traits and skills ( 2002):
- Openness - This quality combined with objectivity becomes very powerful. Treat everyone the same; do not have a private agenda. Nothing can destroy morale faster than office politics when people worry about the hidden meaning or intent behind an action or a comment.
- Humility - Humility knows your ability and limitations especially the correct measuring of ones own worth and value.
- Strength of character (will) - The Moral qualities of a leader, the principles and motives that control the life of a leader to make the right choices. If you teach your home schooled children to make the right choices that will propel them to the fore front of a lot of people who are making the wrong choices.
- Determination - Determination is growing in our home schooled children the attribute to never give up, never surrender.
- Ability to give credit to others - The learners should be taught the ability or recognize the good in each other and be thankful.
- Willingness to accept blame - The learners must not be taught to point fingers at anyone but themselves.
- Consistent - A leader not only has a clear picture of the goals he wishes to achieve; the manner in which he strives for those goals must also be clear to him. This 'clarity' becomes a framework for decision-making. Being consistent and able to say 'no' becomes much easier when the goal and the procedure are crystal-clear. Living, working, and acting consistently create a predictable behavior which gives the co-workers a sense of security.
- Honest - Leading learners and being followed by learners has a lot to do with trust. A leader don't just receive trust from others, they have to earn it. Leaders can earn it by being honest; by being trustworthy.
- Courage - Someone once explained that large organizations function like “womb” protecting learners from a harsh and unforgiving environment. It takes a great deal of courage.
A person who combines all of the above qualities, with courage, integrity and intuition would certainly qualify as a leader in my estimation. In the past four decades. A true leader should demonstrate all of these characteristics. When they do, the resulting performance in their area of responsibility is very simply something to see. They have a team that wants to come to work, one that looks forward to Monday morning rather than dreading it.