Thursday, March 21, 2013

Defining Leadership

“…here is my definition of what effective educational leadership is able to achieve: improve learning outcomes for students.”

I agree that the purpose of educational leadership is improved student achievement, definitely. It’s the outcome of leadership practices, but is no more or less important than the process that leads to this outcome. I think others come close to a working definition of the notion of leadership:

1. “Instructional leadership consists of direct and indirect behaviors that significantly affect teacher instruction and, as a result, student learning” (Daresh and Playko, 1995).

2. “The leader is a person who is in a position to influence others to act and who has, as well, the moral, intellectual, and social skills required to take advantage of that position” (Schlechty, 1990).
3. “Instructional leadership is leadership that is directly related to the processes of instruction where teachers, learners, and the curriculum interact” (Acheson & Smith, 1986).
4. Quoting Jo Blase, “Leadership is shared with teachers, and it is cast in coaching, reflection, collegial investigation, study teams, explorations into the uncertain, and problem solving. It is position-free supervision wherein the underlying spirit is one of expansion, not traditional supervision. Alternatives, not directives or criticism, are the focus, and the community of learners perform professional-indeed, moral-service to students” (as cited in Gordon, 1995).
5. “Leadership [of nonprofit organizations] is not about being soft or nice or purely inclusive or consensus-building. The whole point is to make sure the right decisions happen-no matter how difficult or painful-for the long-term greatness of the institution and the achievement of its mission” -Jim Collins, Good to Great and the Social Sectors
6. “…any useful conception of academic leadership must be based primarily on clarity about the goals of school, analysis of current results, and purposeful actions to close existing gaps between desired results and present reality” (Wiggins & McTighe, 2007).
Patterson (1993) provides further insight into specific behavioral patterns that stem from effective instructional leaders:
  •  They provide a sense of vision to their schools (can articulate a vision, help develop it, and keep the vision and mision alive on a day-to-day basis).
  • They engage in participatory management (empower others to lead).
  • They provide support for instruction.
  • They monitor instruction.
  • They are resourceful.
Any other good definitions of leadership out there?