Five Traits of a Good Educational Leader

Educational Leadership Updated January 6, 2016

Educational LeadershipThere are several traits educators should strive for to become good leaders. Just like administrators, teachers need to set a good example and, although they are not the leader of the school, they are the leader of the classroom, and this is a very important role.

The following are five of the most important characteristics any good educational leader should possess and are traits they should be able to apply in a variety of situations.

1. Self-aware

A good educational leader needs a solid understanding of oneself and should also have self confidence. When a person believes in himself or herself, he or she can do and accomplish many things. Educational leaders with self confidence are not scared or nervous about the decisions they are making, and they are not afraid of what other people think of them. They should know how to start each day and lead their school, their fellow teachers and their students in the right direction and help to accomplish the goals of the classroom and the school.

2. Excellent communication

The best educational leaders are excellent communicators. A leader cannot lead a group of people if he or she does not speak with them. The best leaders know how to reach a variety of people in many different ways. For instance, a principal might have one-on-one chats with teachers each week and also send out a daily e-mail update. This way, the principal takes the time to communicate in-person but also makes communication convenient by e-mailing the teachers as well.

3. Resourceful

Educational leaders are resourceful and open to new ideas. Especially during tough economic times, technology helps to change the classroom and educational leaders, including teachers, need to be open to new ideas that might improve their classroom.  They also need to know how to use the resources they have to the best of their ability. A good leader does not get set in his or her own way, but takes the information from the past and applies it to the resources of the future. Everyone benefits from this type of leadership mentality.

4. Lead by example

The best leaders in the educational system make it a point to lead by example, and not simply by words. It is easy to spell out rules and dictate them from an ivory tower. More than likely, however, this type of leadership will not have a large impact on a school. If a principal wants everyone to speak kindly to one another in the hallways, the principal has to make an effort to always speak kindly as well. If a teacher wants students to show one another respect, then he or she must show them what being respectful is all about. This method is effective and powerful, and helps to teach students an important life lesson as well.

5. Power of teaching and learning

Above all, educational leaders must have a belief in the system and the students they are teaching. If a leader does not believe the students can do it, or does not feel the teachers are adequate, then everyone is doomed to failure. There has to be an inherent belief in what the school is trying to accomplish everyday. Without a leader who is also a believer, the school will likely suffer from low morale. People will not be motivated to make the change if the leadership does not believe the change can happen.

There are many different characteristics and traits of a good leader, but these ensure that anyone who can embody these traits can make a good leader in the school system. Whether the leader in question is a principal at an elementary school or a coach at a high school, these traits can be applied in a variety of different circumstances. Being a good leader is not something simply left for administrators.  Teachers must also strive to be the best leaders of their classrooms and teach students how to become the leaders of tomorrow.


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This online toolkit is for courageous, reflective leaders who will guide K-12 and higher education communities. Here you will find advice on how to create learning environments that help teachers, staff and students reach their goals. You will also find articles and resources on the theories and practices that help thoughtful and committed leaders guide learning communities.

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