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Leadership Insights Updated February 5, 2018

Five Traits of a Good Educational Leader

By The Room 241 Team November 3, 2012

This post has been updated for accuracy and relevance as of December 2017.

All educators take on leadership roles. Teachers are the leaders of their classrooms. Principals are the leaders of their schools. Every educator and administrator plays a part in leading tomorrow’s future. How inspiring is that? Together, no matter what your role, you are all making a difference in the lives of your students.

Want to be sure you’re being a good leader? Here are five of the most important characteristics any effective educational leader should possess and demonstrate on a daily basis. 

1. Self-aware

A good educational leader needs a solid understanding of oneself and should also have confidence. When you believe in yourself, you can accomplish so much more. Have confidence in the decisions you make, don’t be nervous, and don’t be afraid of what others may think. Plan how you’ll start each and every day in ways that will lead your students, school, and colleagues in the right direction to achieve their goals.

2. Excellent communication skills

You can’t lead a group of people if you don’t speak with others! The best educational leaders are excellent communicators and 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 email update. This way, the principal takes the time to communicate in-person but also makes communication convenient by emailing the teachers as well. No matter what your job title is at your school, make sure you’re constantly communicating with your colleagues, students, and others.

3. Resourceful

To be an effective leader, you need to be resourceful and open to new ideas. Especially during tough economic times, technology helps to change classrooms, and you need to be open to new ideas that will improve the way students absorb and retain information. You also need to know how to use the resources you have to the best of your ability—if you aren’t sure, ask someone in the know. Take an online course. Get the answers you need; others around you will benefit greatly 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’s easy to spell out rules and dictate them from an ivory tower, but this type of leadership will not have a large impact in your school. As an educator, you have so much influence on students. If you want students to speak kindly to one another in the hallways, you must always speak kindly, too. If you want your students to show respect, show them what that means. This method is effective and powerful, and helps you teach students skills they will need for the rest of their lives.

5. Power of teaching and learning

Perhaps the most important trait of being an educational leader is believing in your students and the power of education. If you don’t believe in your students or your colleagues, then everyone is doomed for failure. It’s vital to believe in what your school is trying to accomplish each and every day, and to convey your enthusiasm for change, your own motivation to make things better, and your confidence in those around you. Your words and actions directly impact morale—show others your passion for education, and they’ll feel it too.

There are obviously so many different characteristics and traits of a good leader, but these are a great place to start if you’re stepping up to more of a leadership role in your school—whether that’s in your classroom, on a sports team you coach, or within your district. Show ’em what you got.

If leadership is in the stars for you, you’ll love what our online MEd in Educational Leadership has to offer for working professionals.

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