When thinking back about your education from kindergarten to 12th grade, what do you remember about your principals?
Did they have enormous respect from all the students? Did your community embrace them? Were they valuable to your successes as a student?
How involved were they in your school at all?
I remember the ones from my schooling, and I have learned from those principals with regards to what they did and how well it was received from a students’ perspective.
Now, working with tons of leaders from all over the world, I have put together a collection of characteristics I’ve observed are evident in every great principal.
Identifying the Same Qualities
You can do what I cannot do. I can do what you cannot do. Together we can do great things. – Mother Teresa
All great principals have a clear vision for their sites. Their focus of attention is on students, teaching and learning, and the importance of maintaining a safe and purposeful culture and campus.
Any teacher who works for a great principal, will tell you the following things about them which are universal:
- They feel supported. Any leader who wants to be considered better than average, must go to great lengths to become a part of the journey that teachers in the classroom are on. Their evaluation is smothered with ideas on how to find success with students.
- They motivate everyone around them. From the superintendent to a family looking for guidance, the sign of a great leader here is that they will drive innovation, use a personal touch when necessary, and stop at nothing to do what’s needed for their site and those in it. They encourage others to find success and are believed when they guarantee a prediction of results.
- Their level of professionalism is unprecedented. They speak with their audience, they listen respectfully, they could be considered a friend regardless to meeting them for the first time, and it’s obvious they have made a career out of doing what’s best for children. They hold their composure, they consider the future, and it never seems like they’ve encountered a problem they can not solve.
In 2010, Math scores were a focus for improvement for the entire country. From what the curriculum was to how it was taught, any teacher in mathematics was on the precipice of major change. Great principals led their staff through this full speed ahead.
Average ones let the resistance to it resound until:
- Research showed without following through with new ideas and revisions to current ones, individual students across all sub-groups show unanimous decrease in success rates.
- The idea of implementing change is forced from above, making everything even worse.
- The amount of money spent and school results were not adding up and parent voices became loud.
So, which is worse?
Pushing and trying every day to drive new change when it’s obvious that the kids need and deserve it?
Not pushing, allowing no change to take place, not doing much due to fear of conflict or resistance which negative enough could lead to job termination?
Good principals figure out ways, but the best principal is the one who drives everyone to do so with true purpose and professionalism throughout.
More characteristics of the best principal ever:
- They have class. They are polite, respectful, keep their composure even when others don’t.
- They are synonymous to friends or people we’d share life stories with, because we trust them.
- They are easily approachable and pleasant to talk to. Even when the news is bad. Especially when the news is bad!
- The principal is not the “big man” on campus. Here’s what I mean:
- I went to visit a school principal who I hadn’t met yet and didn’t know what they looked like. I knew the superintendent, and when they looked for this person to introduce me to, they said, “I’ll bet you can’t tell me which person is the principal in this room.” And I couldn’t. They stand out when it’s needed most, and blend in otherwise.
- They remember things and get things done that make you wonder – how do they create the time to do everything?
- When around colleagues they’re all business, when around parents on mother’s day you may forget they are an administrator because they fully appreciated that moment to not be about them.
- In meetings, they protect when they have to, join sides to support the school at all cost, and are respected for their actions as well as their words.
- They take advantage of teachable moments, like around say Christmas time, they embrace the city around them and talk with the intent no matter the age of the listener.
- You wouldn’t know if they graduated from anywhere prestigious, were a professor on the side, or what their previous successes are, however you would know if you passed them at the checkout of a grocery store!
- They are family when you need them, friends when you don’t have any, the most business like administrator when it comes down to it, and present the qualities that are appreciated when the community may need it most.
What are ways to foster more?
A principal must be a life long learner. If they are not, this is detrimental to their successes and therefore those at their schools.
The valuable experience of a network allows the future of that leader to prosper, and the kids in the classroom at their school will benefit most. All over the country, leaders come to the Better Leaders Better Schools network for the endless resources that we provide.
Don’t forget, a teacher doesn’t teach only one way forever, their teaching adjusts with the times and the students.
So should be the same for any principal as well!
If you’re looking to level up in your career and haven’t encountered a community of leaders that are saying anything worth while in education – look no further!
Go right now and sign up!
At BLBS, we’re hosting weekly masterminds in several time slots per day of the week. Come check us out and join the movement at betterleadersbetterschools.com/mastermind today – it’s the difference between good and great.