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How to think like a leader

Check out the five stages of the blueprint for success: vision, goal, action plan, action, and reflection

Schools are experiencing a dramatic shift from how they’ve been run and structured for over a century. Leaders must establish direction, influence others, and initiate sustainable change as they navigate the ever-evolving landscape of education. Such leadership requires a dynamic combination of positive mindset, influential behaviors, and effective skills. Stepping into a leader role requires a change in thinking from “How can I be the best for me?” to “How can I be the best to help my people do their jobs more effectively?”

School leadership, which is the process of enlisting and guiding the talents and energies of teachers, students, and families toward achieving common educational goals, is about thinking differently, not just acting differently. If you do what you’ve always done, you’ll get what you’ve always gotten.

All too often, we focus on what we’re comfortable with—the strategies and methods we’ve used for years. But as education evolves, we must be willing to modify or update our approach. As hard and uncomfortable as this may be, we must think about our approach to think like a leader.

To think like a leader is to design a blueprint for success that is cyclical, dynamic, and able to change in time with the reality of the school environment. A blueprint for success is not a strategic plan that sits in a binder on the shelf. Rather, it is a process whereby a leader thinks though all the steps and plans an effective implementation strategy.

Blueprint for success
I believe a blueprint for success consists of five stages: a vision, goal, action plan, action, and reflection.

Effective leaders vividly describe their vision for the future and paint a clear picture of that destination to others. A vision inspires people to work towards a common goal. They build teams and define the steps to get there. A clear vision helps get the team back on track if along the way you go astray with your action steps or attitude.

You hear a lot of people say: “I will believe it when I see it.” Think of vision as the reverse of that statement. If you believe in your vision and model it every day, others will see the vision and have clarity on your direction. True vision provides a roadmap for the school and its stakeholders by providing a picture of success. Effective leaders clearly communicate this vision to the school as a means of inspiring, motivating, and engaging people.

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