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What makes a great educational leader?

Updated: Oct 26, 2021

Being an educational leader is a big responsibility. Not only is it your duty to ensure every student at your institution is getting the most out of their education, but it is also down to you to keep it running smoothly.

Here are just a few attributes you can easily adopt to succeed as an educational leader.

Text reads 'be a great educational leader' in front of a photo of a smiling woman stood in a school yard holding a clipboard as students gather in the background.

Be a role model

As an educational leader, you are a recognisable figure around campus. Students and staff will look to you for guidance and follow suit in your actions. Therefore, it is important to always be a good role model.

If you slack in your duties or express negative attitudes, others will consider it their right to do the same. However, if you are seen to put your best foot forward in everything you do, those around you will feel inspired to rise to your level, making for a more successful school overall.

Build the community

Schools are communities of students, teachers, staff, parents and more, and educational leaders must work to develop care, support and trust between all of these parties.

Each one cares deeply about seeing learners excel in their learning and ensuring every student has a path of education that is right for them. In order to do this effectively, collaboration and agreement of goals is needed, and so a strong, open and accessible community is essential.

Be a lifelong learner

Theories and thoughts behind education and leadership evolve over time to reflect wider societal values and world events. In order to keep up with the times within their role, educational leaders must express curiosity throughout their entire career.

Educational leadership courses and research materials will help you with this, as well as observing how other institutions are adapting to the times and understanding the struggles students have in the modern world.

Use data and resources available to you

Tough decisions have to be made by educational leaders and these decisions will affect all sorts of people across their school. You may have to make difficult decisions in the face of budget cuts, for example. At times, you will be forced to make decisions that will ultimately aid the school but leave some people disappointed.

Whatever choices stand in your way of school success, make sure you do as much research as you can on the factors involved and what the consequences will be. Source data and ask affected parties their thoughts, and look to similar decisions made in the past.

Knowing you have made the best possible decision based on facts as well as feelings, it will be easier for disappointed parties to understand why you have come to the conclusion you have.

Empower teachers

Talented teachers have an immense influence over learners’ education and their formative development. With such an important responsibility, it is vital that teachers have passion for the subjects they teach and that they feel confident in their ability.

As their leader, it can be down to educational managers to help teachers in this way. Make sure you let teachers know you are there for them, and listen to their ideas, be understanding when they have issues and praise them when they are doing a good job.

Have a vision and a plan

Your school may be running just fine, but if you want it to be the best it can be, you need to have a clear vision. Think about what you want for your students, for your staff and for your institution’s reputation. Once you have a clearer idea of your aims to improve these areas, you can start to think of step-by-step plans to achieve them, utilising your staff’s and wider school community’s skills.

What were once pipedreams of a better school are now manageable, achievable and on-track developments.

Have passion

Perhaps most important to being a great educational leader is caring. Without a passion for your position you won’t be motivated to do any of the above, and consequently are letting down everyone belonging to your school community.

Truly caring about educational leadership means you will always be looking for ways to bring innovative techniques to running your institution as well as to teaching. Your passion will shine through and your staff and students will thrive.

Dr. Hanan Kamal is a Notting Hill College graduate with a Diploma in Educational Leadership & Management. Hear what she thinks makes someone an exceptional educational leader from her experience as School Coordinator and Academic Manager at NOOR International Schools.

Discover more about how Notting Hill College’s Diploma in Educational Leadership & Management can boost your career today.



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