Even during the best of times, the role of a school administrator comes with its own set of challenges. Successful school leadership requires personal fortitude, the ability to establish a strong connection with staff and students, and deep reserves of individual resourcefulness. The attitude cultivated by a school’s leader becomes the heartbeat of the entire staff and student body; add to that the fact that a strong leader must be able to integrate ever-changing educational mandates into an academic atmosphere that is already constantly in flux, and finding the right combination for creating an organization in which staff and students can thrive seems like a moving target.
All this holds true even under the most optimal conditions. Today’s educational leaders, however, are constantly presented with new sets of administrative and pedagogical challenges. These difficult conditions require leaders to mine their own creative resources to implement new and improved ways of running their schools—a Herculean task, rife with pitfalls. There are, however, lessons from leaders past that we can draw upon to guide our solutions.