Friday, March 12, 2010

21st Century Leadership

It's been way too long since my last post. Between teaching, coaching baseball, running my business, taking ed admin classes, and selling my house I have failed to find the time to blog. I'm currently in a course which focuses on leadership. Below are a few of my findings and thoughts on what the leader in the 21st looks like.

The role and characteristics of effective leaders have greatly evolved over the years. The 20th Century leader once ruled unchallenged, made all decisions with a firm hand, and was authoritative in nature. These leaders were seen as being “born” to be in these roles or positions and to lead others. As we moved into the 21st Century the role of the leader drastically changed and evolved into a more collaborative and staff centered role. The new 21st Century leader is much different and needs to possess a different skill set and ideals to lead their group to meet their goals and ultimately experience success within their school or organization.

What does this new 21st Century leader look like? This leader plays a much broader role than being the ultimate decision maker. Part of being an effective leader is having the ability to initiate change within schools. The leader must have the ability to inspire and motivate fellow staff to be active participating members of the school or organization and the decisions and changes that may be taking place. In order to effectively accomplish change the leader must be able to first develop and convey the shared vision of the collaborative change. Once the vision has been shared the leader must take the steps to provide resources and professional development opportunities to help carry out the change. Throughout the process effective leaders assess and monitor progress and are a source of assistance when needed. A supportive environment for the change is necessary for the set goals to be achieved. Forced changes very rarely end in accomplishing goals rather they end in hostility, low staff morale, and a general feeling of helplessness. Successful change is directly tied to the degree that the facilitators and implementers are involved in a collaborative effort.

The 21st Century leader must also be flexible, understand how to function within a group setting, and base decisions on current research, best practices, and collaborative efforts from staff. The leader must also posse’s great people skills, allow staff to do their job, and ultimately be staff centered. In order to accomplish great things the leader must be able to delegate effectively, get advice from experts within the school, work towards goals, adapt well, and most importantly be able to deal with adversity. In combination with all of these skills and characteristics they also must be respected by staff as an expert in a facet of the school. The role of leader requires a very vast skill set.

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