This post is my annual contribution to Scott McLeod's Leadership Day Challenge.
Through my 35 years in education, I have worked with a number of effective school leaders.(Some really ineffective ones too but that's for another post.) My current position as an ed tech consultant, allows me to work with multiple schools, teaching teachers about integrating tech into their classroom and collaborating with school leaders about the challenges they face. There are several noticeable similarities among effective 21st century leaders.
Successful 21st century leadership revolves around the four C's : Conversation, Communication, Collaboration and Creativity.
Conversation- There is no hesitancy among effective leaders to discuss educational matters that deal with what is best for the students. Leaders and teachers are able to rationalize why they do things a certain way. If the answer is" that's the way its always been done" more conversation is needed. 21st century leaders have those conversations frequently.
Communication- Effective 21st century leaders are excellent communicators. They utilize whatever means necessary to spread their vision. They blog, they tweet, they have a Facebook page. They communicate their message to their clientele whether it be parents, teachers, students or others through multiple modes and are comfortable in doing so. With poor communicators, there is sometimes a vacuum of information access which leads to misinformation. Effective leaders fill that vacuum with their own vision.
Collaboration- Effective21st century leaders not only work together with their teachers, they seek out and collaborate with like minded professionals, their peers. The smartest person in the room is the room. The best way to come up with a great idea is to sift through a dozen good ideas. There is no hesitancy to reach out to peers or teachers to solve problems. They believe in team.
Creativity- Effective 21st century leaders find a way. They think outside the box. They are not afraid to fail, reflect on their experience and move on to solving the problem. They aren't bogged down by 20th century rhetoric or policies. They seek to solve 21st century problems with unique and innovative thought from this century. They embrace innovation and in effect, stifle adequacy.
The most effective leaders have high levels of expertise with all four components. They may not have mastered the skills but they are part of the learning cycle. They are continuing to grow.
The wealth of resources currently available to leaders is mind boggling and it keeps expanding. As educators, we need to take advantage of these opportunities and cultivate a culture of effective 21st century leaders.