Leadership is a perennial topic in education. The terms “school leadership,” “school board leadership,” and “district leadership” are thrown about in policy papers and scholarly articles as the keys to educating students at high levels and turning around struggling schools. But, what do these terms really mean, and how do we define them for real people doing real jobs in school systems? As an education leader, you need good, practical guidance on what skills are most important in your job and how to cultivate those skills.
Here are a few questions to help you begin thinking about what leadership might mean for you and your school system:
- How well do you motivate teachers and students?
- Do you use data effectively and appropriately on behalf of your students and staff?
- Do you have meaningful partnerships with the businesses around your school?
- How are you at taking calculated risk? Are you tentative, or do you embrace risk and change when it is right for your students?
- Can you think of a leadership decision you would make differently if you could do it again?
- How would your colleagues answer these questions about your leadership abilities?
- Would you know what to do with your colleagues’ insights if you had them?
Assessing your leadership skills and digging into questions like those above in a meaningful way can be daunting but very rewarding for you and your students. Schools and districts need leaders with great academic knowledge. They also need visionaries, risk takers, and strong managers with interpersonal skills and intuition. These skills can be learned and nurtured through mentorship and reflection.
Edwards Educational Services has created the Educational Leadership Inventory (ELI), a process designed to assess and cultivate leadership skills specifically in educators. It is based upon five key Education Leadership Domains:
- Visionary Leadership
- Instructional Leadership
- Emotional Intelligence
- Culture and Climate
The ELI starts with a 360-degree assessment of your leadership skills. You take the assessment of 115 questions about your own skills, and you invite 20 or more of your colleagues—a combination of peers, superiors and subordinates—to answer those same 115 questions about your skills. A customized report showing the survey results is delivered to you.
You may have seen or even taken a leadership survey in the past. The unique value of the ELI is two-fold: First, it encourages you to have 20 or more colleagues provide feedback about you. As more people provide feedback, the information you receive is more reliable and helpful.
Second, the ELI includes consultation with an education leadership expert from Edwards Educational Services. This person will guide you through analyzing the data from your survey, delve into your strengths and challenges, and help you build a plan for cultivating change over time that will strengthen your leadership abilities.
If you are ready to take the next step in your leadership development, the ELI can open up a world of possibilities for improving how your lead your school or district, your staff and your students. To learn more about the ELI, contact EES at firstname.lastname@example.org.
~Helen Morris, ELI Manager