People often say that the best leadership comes from the front of an organization, as this sort of effort has the capacity to influence all of the members of a group. This is certainly the case in schools, in which the educational strategies employed by each individual teacher and staff member have the potential to widely affect the success of the institution as a whole. With this in mind, it’s important that educators and school employees take the time to consider the effectiveness of their principal. While school administrators might go about their jobs in different ways, there are certain habits that most effective principals engage in.

Fostering Leadership in Others

According to the Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development, one of the hallmarks of excellent  principals is their capacity to disseminate leadership among the other individuals with whom they work. Regardless of how effective a given principal is, his or her ability to lead is truly only worth as much as their ability to build that skill in other people. Exemplary principals make themselves available to their teachers as a resource, but also encourage those educators to become more involved in all school functions, both in and out of the classroom. This fostering of leadership may manifest through faculty retreats, professional development sessions, or other activities, but it is absolutely integral to the success of a principal.

Creating a unified vision

The Wallace Foundation has indicated that one of the most important practices of effective principals is “shaping a vision of academic success for all students.” In short, this refers to the fact that these administrators will unify their school in understanding of what academic success is for their students at all levels.

This knowledge should come to function as a sort of mission statement, a guiding practice by which each teacher can measure individual achievements and shortcomings in instruction. Ideally, this sort of vision would be introduced early in the academic year, perhaps even before classes start, allowing teachers enough time to integrate it into their curriculum. More importantly, an effective principal will develop this vision collaboratively with their staff after receiving input from each individual teacher.

Constantly providing and improving accessibility

Though it may seem overtly apparent, one of the best things that a principal can do to establish him- or herself as an effective leader is increase their visibility and accessibility within the school.

“Principals should make an effort to host office hours at least once a week”

While the duties of their role will certainly keep them busy for the vast majority of the day, principals should make an effort to host office hours at least once a week so that teachers or students can come to them and discuss issues concerning the school. Not only does this allow the principal a heightened degree of vision as to what is taking place in their academic community, but it also creates even more opportunity to foster leadership in others.