Category: Political (ISLLC 6)

A school administrator is an educational leader who promotes the success of all students by understanding, responding to, and influencing the larger political, social, economic, legal, and cultural context.

Credibility In Leadership via Kouzes & Posner

The Truth About Leadership:  

The No-Fads, Heart-Of-The-Matter Facts You Need To Know

by James M. Kouzes & Barry Z. Posner

Chapter 2 Reflections

Seth E. Berg

Essential Learning:

Chapter Two of The Truth About Leadership cuts right to the point.  The foundation of the chapter is that credibility plays an essential role in effective leadership.  The chapter unfolds around the idea that believing in yourself is a great start, but that until others believe in you you’re not credible as a leader, and therefore not effective.  I appreciate that the authors go on to address the difference between being forced (or feeling forced) to follow and willingly following.  When people are so moved by credible leaders that they follow them “enthusiastically and voluntarily” organization tend to thrive.  Employees who believe in their organization’s leadership feel energized to contribute, they feel as though they have some stake in the outcomes they produce, and they are inspired to make incredible things happen.

Kousez and Posner point out that leadership is a relationship.  As with partners in any relationship, leaders are rightfully held to certain expectations.  Meeting those expectations is pivotal to the success of the relationship.  It is crucial that leaders are good for their word.  When credibility is diminished by consistent miscommunication and a lack of follow through, resentment and disillusion can mount.  Organizations suffer when their leaders are perceived to lack credibility.  Kousez and Posner conducted a pointed survey with tens of thousands of respondents identifying four primary characteristics that people admire in those who lead them.  According to the respondents, people want their leaders to be honest, forward-looking, inspiring, and competent.  Moreover, the authors contend that those are the characteristics of leaders who motivate people to work with passion and purpose.

Honesty is critical because people have to know that they can trust those who are setting the course.  Change is constant and can often times be intimidating.  Leaders must convey the clear message that they have “ethical principles and clear standards by which (they) live.”  Being honest is a holistic act.  Great leaders are honest with those that they serve and they are honest with themselves.  They understand their needs, their strengths, and their limitations.  They work and live with a deep knowledge of their own circumstances.  When they speak they truly subscribe to what they are saying.  Forward thinking leaders give people a sense that the future is positive and stable, those who inspire help people commit to that future while giving them reasons to feel comfortable in believing that it’s bright, and of course, competency produces confidence.  People especially admire leaders who have the competency to admit and articulate their challenges, and who are able to accept learning as an essential component of growth.

Finally, this chapter illuminates the indelible truth that great leadership is contagious.  Organizations that are well run and guided by people who are credible tend to be filled with credible leaders at all levels.  People in those types of organizations tend to expect credibility from one another regardless of the capacity in which they serve.  When the onus for being honest, forward-looking, credible, and inspiring comes from an effective leader who puts it on himself and lives it, those characteristics tend to spread, creating cultural norms that enhance his community and all of its stakeholders.

Highlights – Ten Quotes To Ruminate On:

1.  Leadership begins with you and your belief in yourself.  Leadership continues only if other people also believe in you.

2.  Leadership is a relationship between those who aspire to lead and those who choose to follow.

3.  In every relationship people have expectations of each other.

4.  Before anyone is willing to follow you – or any other leader – he or she wants to know that you are honest, forward-looking, inspiring, and competent.

5.  Being honest means telling the truth and having ethical principles and clear standards by which you live.

6.  (People) need to believe that you are worthy of your trust.

7.  To be honest with others also requires being honest with yourself and taking stock of what is truly important to you.

8.  You have to be candid with yourself about your strengths and limitations.

9.  If you don’t believe in the messenger, you won’t believe the message.

10.  Do what you say you will do.


I have worked in many organizations.  For better or worse, leadership has set the tone in each and every one.  The values of those who lead seem to permeate throughout, especially when their actions match those values.  Most recently I have been extremely fortunate to work in two elementary school communities whose leadership is outstanding!  Both communities are lead by administrators who deeply value collaboration.  Both administrations support and encourage leadership at all levels.  It’s exciting and empowering to know that my input is essential to the wellbeing of the community I serve.  I know many teachers in both buildings who spend time and exert energy well beyond what is contractually required because they understand the critical part they play in fostering a healthy and productive learning environment.  The lived values of these incredible leaders makes that possible.  I’ve heard stories of schools whose leaders stifle teacher contributions by micromanaging with an eye on targeting the negative.  Instead, they should be focused on collaborating and highlighting positive development.  In my experience, leaders who overtly addressing challenges as boons for adaptation and pathways to success gain credibility and inspire others to achieve!

Teacher Leadership: 10 things Administrators Can Do

Perpetuating a Culture of Shared Leadership & Learning

The Point:  Leadership is a driving force in the development of school communities.  The collaborative effect of disconnecting title from leadership potential can be powerful in perpetuating school improvement, and consequently, student achievement.  Administrators are well served to include multiple stakeholders on leadership teams.

The Story:  Teacher leadership thrives in schools that embrace constant learning and growth at all levels.  Change is ever-present in the world of education.  A new group of students arrives in each classroom at the beginning of every school year.  Those students bring a unique set of abilities, interests, and challenges.  They are connected to a constantly shifting body of expectations predicated by national, state, and local needs and desires which are influenced by a fluid political, cultural, and economic climate.  This constant change is inexorably accompanied by the need for learning, growth, and shared leadership.  Great teacher leaders embrace change and help others learn and grow along with them.  They model excitement over the availability of progressive tools and new learning.  They share insights and realizations that help foster effective instruction.  They listen and seek opportunities to learn from others.  They model a clear understanding that other teachers’ strengths can translate into their ability to grow.  They see themselves as part of a team and they believe in their team’s purpose and mission.

Symbiotically, effective administrators perpetuate environments that encourage leadership among their staffs.  They set up and maintain structures for open communication that allow teachers to feel as though their voices are heard, appreciated, and injected into the framework of positive cultural shifts.  Together, administrative and teacher leadership teams thrive in challenging situations and they find ways to function as in collaborative developmental capacities.  In ideal settings, teacher leaders are confident in their ability to instruct students and they welcome critical feedback without the fear of evaluative consequences.  Great leadership teams are authentic in their resolve to create environments where that is possible.  Teachers are leaders whether they head committees, take on formal leadership roles, or not.  In combination with intentional and supportive administrative leadership, effective teacher leadership is essential to successful school improvement and sustained student achievement.

The Proposal:  Developing a culture of ongoing, collaborative professional learning can help to enhance a school communities’ ability to improve and achieve collective goals.  Below are ten ideas administrators might try.  Your input is welcome and appreciated in the comment section!

1.  Model enthusiasm for learning through challenges.

2.  Communicate reflective thinking and ask for feedback as you adapt.

3.  Share your insights and ideas with teachers and parents.

4.  Listen intently and make it clear that you receive feedback with authentic interest.

5.  Work to understand each teacher’s interests.

6.  Encourage focused and ongoing professional learning that targets those interests as they relate to curriculum and instruction.

7.  Set up structures that allow teachers to communicate with one another about their individualized professional learning.

8.  Regularly ask to visit and collaborate with teachers outside of administrative observations.

9.  Celebrate professional learning in non-evaluative ways through digital environments and social media.

10.  Allow teachers to contribute to planning for PD topics and structures.

Learning 365: Perception Is Reality

Learning 365

(Critical Thinking About What The World Is Teaching Me Every Day)

#40 Perspective Is Reality

[Lesson Break Down]

Communication is beholden to perception.  In every communication there’s output and input.  The intentions of the one producing the output can easily be muddied by the perception of those processing the input.


The other day I was playing with my three-year-old when naptime crept up on us.   Neither of us wanted to stop playing.  However, I knew that we would miss our nap window if we didn’t take a break and make the transition.  My son is just like Ian Falconer’s Olivia – he’s supposed to take a nap every day but when the time comes he’s “not at all tired.” Anyway, I told him that we could take five more minutes to play before we had to go upstairs.  Being the negotiator that he is, he countered with ten minutes.  I told him that I’d concede to seven.  That’s when it happened.  With pride and resolve he looked up at me and declared, “One!”  His three-year-old mind wasn’t taking the time to care that one minute is actually less than any of the other options we’d discussed.  He was simply determined to win the negotiation.  When I agreed to the one-minute extension he was thrilled.  He smiled an “I got you” kind of smile and continued to play.  One minute later I informed him that his time was up.  He gladly put his toys down and led me to his room where we read a few books before he happily snuggled in for a nap.

Later that day I saw the toddler perception machine at work again.  This time, my clever three-year-old was taking my enthusiastic one-year-old for a bit of a ride.  It was Lego time.  The bin had just been opened and the big guy was divvying up the pieces.  Here’s how it went, “One for you…three for me.”  The thing is, he said, “one for you,” with such enthusiasm it was almost as if he was giving the little guy a cookie each time he handed him his third of the Legos.  He was so excited to be getting what he perceived to be “big boy” treatment from his venerated older brother.  What a thrill!

The combination of these events has me thinking about the power of perception and how frequently it plays into the effects of communication in my personal and professional life.   That power seems to be important both when I’m communicating out and when I’m processing communication that I’ve received.  How frequently are my intentions lost by way of some seemingly unimportant communication misstep?  How often do I attach erroneous intentions to the messages I’m receiving from my colleagues or my loved ones?  What impact does perception-based miscommunication have on the development of relationships, productivity, organizational culture, achievement of goals, etc.?  I’ve brainstormed some scenarios in which perception might have been working against effective communication in my daily life so that I can think critically about enhancing my output and input on a go forward basis.  Here are 5 things to consider about digital communication – specifically with regard to e-mails:

1.  Taking for granted that someone is reading a digital message in exactly the way it was intended can be a mistake.

2. Likewise, making assumptions about potential negative intentions behind a confusing received digital message can lead to further confusion and potential problems.

3. Assuming positive intentions goes a long way when communicating digitally (or otherwise for that matter).

4.  Messages with no subject line or with the entire message in the subject line are easily confused.

5.  It’s nice when people personalize digital messages by including a greeting and signature line.  It really only takes a moment and I think it goes a long way.