Leadership & Culture

Leadership can be identified and described in a multitude of ways resulting in a staggering amount of literature on the topic.  A simple search for synonyms of the word listed below illustrates this effectively.

synonyms: guidancedirectioncontrolmanagement, superintendence, supervision;


Providing guidance and direction has a very different tone that control and management.  We frequently hear of these differences attributed to the various leadership styles that a leader might possess or perhaps even transition between in different situations.

I submit to you a different perspective on leadership that centers on the fundamental purpose of leadership within a school or organization.  Edgar Schein, a well known researcher on organizational culture, states that the only thing of significance a leader does is to shape and work with culture.  A leader’s charisma will only carry an organization when they are at the helm and many schools struggle to recover after a leader of this type transitions out.  The leader who follows struggles to pick up the pieces and cannot continue moving the organization forward.  Conversely, many organizations rely on systems and processes.  Schools that rely on processes have a tendency to become rigid and cannot adapt to the changing needs of the organization.

Charisma and processes are simply not what makes a leader effective.  Their ability to impact culture ensures that the school continues moving forward long after they are gone.  The school becomes centered around a collective vision for the future and beliefs or values that guide the organization.  The entire school community owns this vision and the values they believe will guide them in realizing their vision for the future.

We must change our view of leadership to one centered upon serving others and shaping culture around a powerful vision for the future and core beliefs or values.  Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. summed it up perfectly.  “Everybody can be great…because anybody can serve.  You don’t have to have a college degree to serve.  You don’t have to make your subject and verb agree to serve.  You only need a heart full of grace.  A soul generated by love.”  I challenge you to lead your school by serving and building it for the future.  You are not building your resume, rather you are building the future for the school community that you serve.  Leadership and culture are two sides of the same coin.





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