Effective Educational Leadership

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Effective Educational Leadership

Effective Educational Leadership

Effective Leadership

Effective leaders carry the dreams of others to the finish line. The history of effective leadership is laden with inspiring tales of prophets, explorers, military heroes, athletes, scientists, and educators. Effective leaders have shaped nations, corporations, education systems, and the lives of millions of people. From ancient times to the present, observers remain perplexed about the actual essence of effective leadership and how to teach it. While researchers report multiple studies about leadership effectiveness, they find that myth and historical accounts of historical figures influence the definitions and characteristics of effective leaders. Warren Bennis and Burt Nanus found 350 definitions of leadership in the literature, and others challenge the lingering belief that personal physical, gender, and personality traits determine successful leadership. Physical size is a factor in athletics and other endeavors that require strength and agility, but weight, height, race, gender, and personality traits are not dominant factors in determining effective leadership (Croninger& Finkelstein, 2002).

Mother Teresa and Mohandas Gandhi were not tall, imposing persons, but their spiritual and intellectual gifts made them effective, caring leaders in the eyes of the world. These and others have modeled and helped transform the archaic view of top-down rule by stoic leaders toward bottom-up team builders in empowered organizations stressing relationships. The traditional top-down controlling bureaucratic model is being replaced by organizations with effective leaders with vision and selflessness. Most Fortune 500 companies, top 10 universities, and exceptional school districts have moved away from well-oiled, predictable, clockwork systems with rigid line-and-organizational charts with isolated executives making decisions in secret (Hargreaves & Fink, 2006).

Larry Hirschorn's 1997 postmodern premise is that there is no single best way to organize schools for success. He and other transformers realize that centralization of authority is no longer the best structure in contemporary school organizations. To model shared leadership, the superintendent of schools, central office staff, and principals empower teacher leaders to guide colleagues to make site-based decisions about new personnel, curriculum, and selected budget items. Effective school leaders stress professional development for all staff members in the areas of servant leadership, delegation, communication, and the sharing of data for district, campus, and student performance.

The origins of transforming school organizations toward relationships and team building are found in the early works by Hemphill and Coons, who, in 1950, distinguished the difference between leading and administering. Later, Gordon Donaldson believed that contemporary school administrators must take people beyond outdated administrative practices to mobilize staff practices and beliefs so that the school fulfills its vision and mission for all children. James MacGregor Burns calls these changes toward more human organizations transformational leadership that helps employees find fulfillment in the workplace. Leadership studies have been divided into five themes: (1) leadership as personal quality, (2) leadership as a type of behavior, (3) leadership depending on the situation, (4) leadership as relational, and (5) leadership as a moral quality for systemic improvement. John Hoyle recently added a sixth theme—leadership as a force of love and spirituality (Hoyle, ...
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