Not everyone can be a school administrator. Here are the essential qualities that make an effective school leader.

If you’re interested in becoming a school leader, there are several areas in which to focus. CUAA covers all of these areas in its school administrator training program, also known as a Masters of Science in Educational Leadership.

Know the field

First and foremost, they have to be knowledgeable about the field of education. They should be familiar with the curriculum for all content areas since they will be responsible for overseeing teachers who are delivering the subject matter. This does not mean that the leader must be an expert in every content area; however, they should be familiar with the requirements. Most school districts have a Curriculum Department; however, if there is no curriculum support on the local level, there are resources available to schools through the Intermediate School Districts. A school leader must be able to move student achievement in a positive direction. They have to create a learning environment that is supportive, student-centered, and focuses on student success.

The best teachers are team players

A school leader must not only be a team player, but they must also be a team builder. If they have the opportunity to hire teachers and other staff, they must be knowledgeable in hiring and interviewing practices. In addition, not only do they have to hire faculty and staff, they must provide a school culture that retains employees. Leaders have to provide support to all employees. School leaders also have to be able to build relationships and have respect for all school employees. They have to know that the school secretary, custodian, food service worker, and other ancillary staff are just as important as the teaching faculty and the administrators.

Communication is key

A school leader must have excellent communication skills, which include verbal and written. They have to keep their supervisors and subordinates informed at all times. This also includes communicating with parents and community stakeholders. Communication is a “two-way street.” The leader must share information, but just as important, they must be willing to solicit information and listen to the school employees and community members. As part of the communication process, a school leader must be willing to share the goals and objectives of the organization. Effective communication helps to clarify information and promote understanding between people. Good communication skills can help resolve conflicts and misunderstandings.

Collaboration and cultural competence

Knowing how to collaborate is a key attribute for school leaders. They must work together with the school employees on the school’s vision and mission. This includes gathering information from community members to build support for the school’s vision and mission. This will enhance a leader’s task of creating a culture of excellence for the school. Collaboration enhances teamwork to bring about strategic thinking which brings departments and teams together to build a shared sense of purpose.

A school leader must be culturally competent. They have to be accepting of all people and treat all people fairly. They have to be inclusive. This will help improve communication and reduce misunderstandings. A school leader must have respect for diversity so that everyone can feel valued and accepted. Cultural competency and inclusivity help to foster equality and prevent discrimination and prejudice.

Want in?

These are just a few of the qualities that an effective school leader must possess. More information on educational leadership can be found on our website. Click on the link below to learn more.

—Sandra J. Harris, ED.D., is the Director of CUAA School of Education graduate education. Harris is also an associate professor within the School of Education.