By its very nature, a school leader's job leaves little time for reflection.
You rush from meeting to meeting, check your e-mail constantly, put out fire after fire, and make countless phone calls.
You engage in an astonishing amount of fast-moving activity that allows little time for actual strategy.
At the same time, you are under incredible pressure to perform.
You have far too much to do, even if you work twelve-hour days.
So, a successful school administrator requires strong leadership skills as well as managerial agility.
You must be great at communicating; you must uphold the principles of honesty and integrity to the highest degree, you must be self-confident, resilient and show positivity in the face of adversity. Finally, you must, of course, demonstrate an unwavering commitment to your school's cause, your institution's shared vision.
While that's a lot to ask, it's not sufficient.
Atrophy and apathy are still holding back most schools.
Competition is heating up with no end in sight. It is unmerciful and cruel.
There is only one boss, and that is the parent.
Few school leaders are cut out for this struggle.
If so, there is one competency that will give you a truly sustainable advantage as a school leader. It is the one competency that will make you invaluable to your school's success.
To thrive in today's environment, you have to evolve your mindset from school leadership to school entrepreneurship. You have to adopt a mindset of taking measured risks and bold, decisive action.
What does this mean in practice?
1. Being parent-centric
You must intimately understand your market and what your prospective parents are looking for. Don’t waste time one-upping your competition; instead, focus on getting ahead of the market. Find ways to make your parents excited and clamor for more. Their expectations are never static; they are always on the rise. It’s human nature. You cannot rest on your laurels in this world. Parents won’t have it.
2. Being innovative
In the fast-paced, cutthroat world of K-12 education, you must be willing to continuously question your programs and challenge yourself as well as your staff. You must be willing to try out many ideas, knowing that some will flop. Taking calculated risks and accepting the possibility of failure is necessary for a growing school.
In the long run, experimentation will always pay off; your few big successes will outweigh dozens of smaller defeats.
3. Being resourceful and action oriented
Systematic and efficient execution will determine your survival above all else. A school team that knows how to get things done will have an upper hand over the mostly lethargic, slow-paced schools across the country.
If you can supercharge your staff's energy, you'll hold a massive advantage over the rest of the market.
4. Being decisive
There are hundreds of school teams that go through endless board discussions only to postpone their decisions to the following year out of fear of how their community will judge them. Remember that there is a fine line between making sound decisions and inertia.
How bad do you want your school to succeed?
Are you willing to stop asking for permission?
If you get tired, learn to rest, not to quit.
Edit your habits continuously and ruthlessly.
All progress takes place at the edge of your comfort zone.