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  • 1. Educational Leadership Philosophy Melanie BergenhagenMinnesota State University, Moorhead
  • 2. In thinking about my own personal leadership philosophy, I have come to realizethere is a lot more to leadership than I had originally realized. Leadership is not only aboutguiding others and building them up, it is about how you present yourself, communicate withstakeholders, show/articulate your mission and vision, implement change, support others andmore. One of the most important of these things I feel is having a mission and vision for yourschool. I believe that a leader needs to know what their purpose and direction is and this isshown through the mission and vision. If the administrator doesn’t know where he/she is going,how can we expect them to get their staff there? A leader needs to be able to develop a visionthat, “meets the organizational goals as well as community goals, states your values, and are apublic/visible declaration of your expected outcomes, precise and practical.” It must also, “guidethe actions of all involved by reflecting the knowledge, philosophy, and actions of all.” (Smith,2002) Leaders should be able to devise a research based plan of action with the input of allstakeholders. They should also be able to successfully articulate their mission and vision andtheir rationale/research for it to all stakeholders. When everyone is on the same page they cancollaboratively access and improve the culture and climate of the school to meet the needs of allstudents and reach their goals. A leader also needs to be a good communicator. On a daily basis an administratorwill need to communicate a variety of different things to different stakeholders. Whencommunicating to stakeholders administrators will need to be consistent in providing theirpurpose and direction for the school and goals. Leaders need to be able to do this is a way thathelps the stakeholders understand the information being delivered, gain their support and listento their concerns/input. I believe that getting stakeholders feedback and being open and honest
  • 3. will help everyone overall. Leaders need to be able to develop a sense of community while maintaining structurein the school. All schools have differing levels of authority among them, rules and policies,systems, meetings, task forces/networks. In turn it is easy for schools to be “complex, surprising,deceptive, and ambiguous.” (Bolman, & Deal, 2008). A good leader should be able to developculture and community in their school giving people a sense of structure, encouragement andsupport, recognize successes, and give others the opportunity to build their own leadership.People want to be able to do something that is meaningful to them and that they believe in.By creating a community feel at school, staff members are more likely to buy into the schoolsmission and vision and in turn put more time and energy into helping it be successful for student.A great way for leaders to do this is by modeling shared leadership and decision-makingstrategies and facilitating teamwork. This gives others the opportunity to express themselvesand their ideas and concerns. “When individuals find satisfaction and meaning in their work, theorganization profits from the effective use of their talent and energy.” (Bolman, & Deal, 2008) Leaders need to be researcher and a decision maker. “Leaders are frequently facing issuessuch as shrinking budgets, restructuring and accreditation issues. These issues often requirechange, and change tends to have profound effects on all of the organization’s stakeholders.”(Bradbury, Halbur, & Halbur, 2010) It is important for a leader to be able to “think and probemore deeply into what is really going on, and to develop an accurate diagnosis” of manydifferent situations.” (Bolman, & Deal, 2008)A leader needs to be able to research best plans ofactions/strategies and to make informed decisions based on that research to decide what is bestfor all stakeholders (students, staff, and community). They can easily do this when they areable to reframe situations. “Reframing is a powerful tool for gaining clarity, regaining balance,
  • 4. generating new options, and finding strategies that make a difference.” (Bolman, & Deal, 2008)Some leaders get stuck because “when we don’t know what to do, we do more of what weknow.” (Bolman, & Deal, 2008) It is important for a leader to be able to move beyond this andgain insight from others when they are uncertain or confused. “A good frame makes it easierto know what you are up against and, ultimately, what you can do about it.” (Bolman, & Deal,2008) Leaders need to be able to successfully implement change and educational reform. Thereare many times a leader needs to implement changes both big and small. A leader needs to beable to gain data on why the current situation is not working from different frames. They needto also have input from stakeholders to utilize the data in coming up with an action plan that willwork best in helping the school to meet its mission and vision. This is important because “innovation inevitably generates four issues. First it affects individual’s ability to feel effective, valued, and in control. Without support training, and a chance to participate in the process, people become powerful anchors, embedded in the past, that block forward motion. Second, change disrupts existing patterns of roles and relationships, producing confusion and uncertainty. Structural patterns need to be revised and aligned to support the new direction. Third, change creates conflict between winners and losers. This conflict requires creation of arenas where the issues can be renegotiated and the political map drawn. Finally change creates loss of meaning for recipients of the change. Transition rituals, mourning the past and celebrating the future help people let go of old attachments embrace new ways of doing things.” (Bolman, & Deal, 2008)The leader then needs to be able to successful implement the plan of action keeping thesein mind and giving the support and help those rationale that do not buy into the change. In
  • 5. interviewing my principal, Arturo Sanchez, he said “There are two reasons people do notbuy into the change, either they don’t understand the benefit, what they have been doing hasworked for them so why change it, or they are not properly prepared for the change, either inunderstanding the change, personal skills or lack of support/training.” (A. Sanchez, personalinterview, July 27, 2011) I agree with this. Leaders need to be able to work through these twohurdles with stakeholders to get the buy in that will help make the change be implemented easier. Lastly, a leader needs to themselves and their ethics. A leader needs to be able to “knowwhat they truly believe about the rights of teachers, students, parents, and the community?” (A.Sanchez, personal interview, July 27,2011) Then a leader knows what they stand for and why itis easier for them to make consistent decisions that are best for the overall mission and vision ofthe school. Trusting themselves and their beliefs about what the rights are of your stakeholderswill help keep transparency and understanding, which in turn will create more support whenneeding to make difficult decisions. Overall, an educational leader needs to be able to do what they feel is best for studentsand their education. A leader needs to be able to advocate for those issues they know is best forstudents even if it is difficult to implement. We need to keep the students and their education atthe forefront of decisions, since they are reason we chose this role in the first place. ReferencesBolman, L. G., & Deal, T. (2008). Reframing organizations. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.Bradbury, B.L., Halbur, K.V., & Halbur, D. (2010). Authority and leadership via a multiple frames approach . Society for the Philosophical Study of Education.Smith, J.A,. (2002). Educational leaderhip toolkit. Retrieved from
  • 6. http://www.nsba.org/sbot/toolkit/