Being a leader in an educational setting can be stressful, and it can be demanding, but the rewards that you can (and will) get from your role will make it all worthwhile. Being a leader within an educational setting such as a school, academy, or college can be emotionally and physically draining. Trying to do everything and be everything to many people is not going to help the situation.
When you are exhausted of options, ideas, and focus, you can make poor decisions. These decisions can affect lots of students and other educators. Maintaining your effectiveness as a leader is crucial to your success and the success of the establishment you are working in. So, what changes can you start making, and what should you start focusing on and prioritizing?
1. Decide What You Want to Achieve in Post
No two leadership positions are the same, and similarly, no two educational establishments are the same. This means that what you want to achieve within your post may differ from what another leader wants to achieve. It would be best to decide what you want to accomplish within leadership and what you need to achieve.
If you do not establish where you can make a difference and just where you can improve, how can you show that you have made a change, and how can you show that you have made a difference? The sooner you choose what you want to achieve within your time as a leader, the more effective and productive you will be.
2. Focus on Goal Setting
Goals can help you to reach maximum efficiency and effectiveness within your role. Setting goals will also help you break down larger targets into smaller, more realistic, and achievable ones. So, ask yourself what goals I should be setting? Look at what you like to achieve within your establishment. Small changes can make a big difference and have a huge impact.
For example, changing staff working hours, and even moving them around to use their skills and experience can help you. Setting both private and professional goals will help you achieve much more within a week or a month. When you set goals, it is important not to try and set too many at once, or this will leave you feeling saturated and unnecessarily pressured. Focus on setting a handful of goals that are focused and realistic for the coming months.
3. Maintain Focus, Clarity, and Direction
When you are in charge and overseeing what is happening in any educational setting, the pressure can leave you feeling confused. Knowing what to do and knowing what direction to take the staff and students in is what you should be focusing on at all times.
As a leader, you must maintain clarity, focus, and direction at all times. When you are clear on what you want to do and focused on what direction you and the educational setting are going in, you can begin to make effective change, and you can be sure that you are an effective leader.
4. Look At Others in Positions of Authority
You are not isolated in this journey of leadership or even in this process of self-discovery; this is ultimately something you should remember during your tenure. When you realize that you have other professionals to reach out to, you should not feel so alone, and you should not feel so much pressure to be the best all of the time.
Looking at others in positions of authority (and even getting a mentor) can support you be the best leader you can be. Others in similar positions will have experience and knowledge to impart and share with you.
5. Accept Criticism and Feedback
All leaders go through bad times, but how you deal with this reflects how you will cope in the future and what you will achieve too. It can be hard to accept criticism and feedback as an educational leader, but you must because this is part and parcel of the role. If you do not learn to handle constructive criticism, you will not grow, and you will not develop. Seeking out feedback, and learning to adapt, change and grow is what versatile leaders do, and it is what successful and effective leaders focus on.
6. Know Your Strengths and Weaknesses
When you know where your strengths and weaknesses lie, you can begin to take decisive action. If you do not know what strengths and weaknesses you have, how can you make a change, and how can you positively move forward? You need to know what areas you need to work on and develop, and you also need to know what strengths you can play to and use to your advantage.
If you are not entirely sure where your strengths and weaknesses lie, complete a self-evaluation period. Look at how you have recently handled a situation or scenario, and see what you did effectively, and perhaps what you could have done better (or should have done better). Regularly self-evaluating your performance and behavior will help you grow and develop.
7. Focus on Building a Strong Team
As you are not alone in your leadership post, you should remember the importance of building a team. A strong team can help you achieve a lot more, and it can help you grow as a leader. If you try and tackle every role or responsibility on your own, you will struggle to succeed within your post, and you will certainly struggle to make an impact.
When you are building a team around you, you ensure that any gaps you have within your traits and skills are successfully filled. This may not sound great, but it can be the difference between success and failure in your leadership post.
8. What is Involved in Educational Leadership
When you have been in a role for a while, it can be difficult to progress and make changes, and sometimes you may need to pause and ask yourself key questions, such as what is educational leadership? How can I make a difference to students and staff? Your role as a leader can be consuming, and it can be distracting too.
Sometimes you need to pull things back and look again with fresh eyes at what you want to achieve and why. If you do not take these moments to look at what is involved in leadership within an education setting, then you may well find that you go through your time post-achieving very little or simply surviving instead of thriving.
9. Why Educational Leaders Are Important
Often you may feel that your role is not having as much of an impact as you thought it would (or hoped it would), and this is when you need to take a step back. Taking a step before and looking at why educational leaders are important is crucial to your success and effectiveness.
After all, if you do not know why you are needed or what your role is, how will you push yourself and the educational establishment you are working in forwards? Regularly asking yourself why educational leaders are important and looking at the changes and developments other leaders are making will help you see where your responsibilities lie and why.
10. Time Management is a Lifesaver
You only have so much time within any given day and what you do in that time is just as important as the period of time itself. You can zoom through your day without really seizing what is happening and why, and this is when problems can appear and even escalate.
Getting to grips with the time you have and making the most out of your time will help you ensure that you are an effective and successful leader. When it comes to time management, you need to focus on what you need to achieve and when. Using your goals and targets and then working backward from these will allow you to see how you should use and spread your time.
11. Delegation Should Be a Top Priority
You can only do so much within your role as a leader, and you must accept this. Trying to do everything and tackle too much at once is a recipe for disaster and not success. As you cannot do everything yourself, you should look towards delegation and delegating out your tasks and responsibilities.
Delegating will help you use the strengths of others, and it will help you get everything completed to the best possible standard. To make the most out of delegation, you have to look at what needs doing, by when, and by whom. Effective delegation (and using the strengths and skills of others) is just as important and crucial as time management.
12. Perseverance and Determination Are Crucial
You may not succeed at what you want to achieve the first time around, and this is simply something you have to deal with. Perseverance will help you to overcome battles and obstacles, and it will help you to mold yourself into an efficient and effective leader.
If you do not have the perseverance, and the determination to overcome the obstacles and hurdles that will inevitably get in your way, then how will you be able to lead others? Picking yourself up, moving on quickly, learning and growing are all essential traits are a great leader. If you cannot show these traits in your leadership, then how can you expect your employees and team members to?
13. Lead By Example
When you lead by example, you can ensure that everything is run and handled consistently and correctly. If you do not lead by example, then there is plenty of room for error, misjudgment, and miscommunication. When you lead by instance, you set the pace for your team, and you clearly set out your expectations.
When you set out your expectations, you set out clearly what is acceptable and what is not. If you do not lead by example, then you will have a lot of employees and team members struggling to know what to do and which direction to head in. This is not going to help you succeed in leadership.
14. Focus on Being Open-Minded
Often leaders are close-minded, and this is not beneficial for anyone (both internally and externally). As an effective leader, you have to be open-minded to new ways of working and even new ways of thinking. If you carry on doing something the same way and never make any changes, then how can you expect the results or the outcome to be any different. Being open-minded, being prepared to change, grow and develop is what will make you a successful and effective leader, both now and moving forwards in the future too.
15. Future Planning is Critical to Success
Future outcomes will determine just how effective and successful you have been as a leader, and this is something that you must be conscious of. Planning out your future within your role will help you ensure that you get the most out of your time. If you do not firmly focus on future planning, then you will soon fall into a nasty habit of simply existing within your role.
Just existing is not something that you want to do – especially if you want to make a change and have an impact. Taking time out of your day to keep planning ahead is important because, as a leader, you need to progress just as much as the educational setting you are working within. If you do not continuously look forwards and plan for the future, then again, team members will struggle to know what they are working towards and what direction they are headed in.