I just saw a Tweet from thought leader and blogger Scott McLeod calling for short posts on technology leadership to celebrate the anniversary of his blog. I am on the road so this will indeed be short, but I have a lot of respect for the work and sharing that Scott promotes, so want to contribute.
As most of you know, I don’t differentiate between the traits of successful technology use or implementation and success at anything else in education. Technology merely represents some of the current array of bows and arrows we have at our disposal. Leadership is about training the strategic and operational mind of the archer.
In all the interviews I have had with school leaders (I keep making the point that ALL of us–teachers, administrators, staff, parents, students–have to become leaders when it comes to learning), the most critical leadership skill in a time of change is the willingness to model risk and embrace failure. Those who can do this advance their organizations in ways that are just unavailable to the timid, the risk averse, those who play it safe, are unwilling to challenge past successes or entrenched centers of inertia.
It is really quite simple: if boards hire CEO’s who are willing to build appropriate risk-taking into the organization, others will follow, including teachers and students. If “top” leadership is unwilling, so will others, and innovation is stillborn. The organization is not going to change. In this environment, that dooms some of those schools to some part of the arc from mediocrity to irrelevance to out-of-business. “Leaders” who cannot demonstrate a real ability to model and promote risk should only be considered for jobs at schools that truly believe they are immune from the need to innovate.
Congratulations, Scott, on so many years of leading, blogging, and sharing with the K-12 community