I have read and commented on three or four recent blog posts related to leadership in schools. I went back through some of my own harvesting of leadership research and found these short reflections on leadership practices that resonate at effectively innovating schools:
- Leading innovation is always best done from the front. Innovation is not a job responsibility that is listed for some and not for others; it is a system of habits and practices that foster a systems-wide change in how the organization adapts to its environment. Innovation cannot be delegated to others.
- Leaders cannot rely on random events. Leaders must intentionally create a focus on innovation as an organizational mission, and communicate that to all stakeholders.
- Leaders are curious about innovation. Educators increasingly agree that teachers should be the “first learners” in the classroom. School leaders should be the first, and most curious, learners about the process of innovation.
- Leaders need to identify innovative entrepreneurs both inside and outside of their organization, and leverage those peoples’ impact on the organization. Schools leaders have to change their hiring priorities to bring in more natural innovators.
- Leaders have to manage less and cultivate more. School leaders need to get away from the head of every conference table, a seat on every committee, and the top of rigidly vertical organization charts. Leaders need to let go of some of their power.
- Leaders have to realize that the future is less knowable than it has been in the past. Principals and boards must be willing to step off into untested waters ahead of objective data that guarantee they have made the right choice.
My #1: ALL of us are leaders; it is just part of the job responsibility now. If a teacher or staff member does not want to lead, maybe there is a better job somewhere else.