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IBERR Manual: Volume 2 Book Two


A selection of articles and material compiled by IBERR for
Reading and Reflecting Motivating and Developing Staff Nurturing and Guiding our Children.

An IBERR (Cape Town) 2004 Publication

International Board of Educational Research and Resources (IBERR) Cape Town South Africa


BOOK II: OWNING THE VISION 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8.


Shaping your Schools Culture . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2 From Personal Vision to Shared Visions . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 8 If I were Principal again Project Success . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 14 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 15 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 24 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 26

Effective Principals . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 20 The Visionary Leader Group Bonding Lessons from Geese . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 25




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School leaders, this article suggests, must be able to identify the elements of culture and apply the shaping strategies that accompany them. It is vital that the staff are involved in every stage of the process.

Effective principals do the same things that effective teachers and superintendents do. They lead rather than boss, and they are driven by service to others. The leadership question has been debated, discussed and written about for many decades. During the 60s and early 70s, the literature focused on managing or getting things done rather than leading. The newest alternative to the leadership perspective is the stewardship concept, introduced in Peter Blocks book Stewardship. Block defines stewardship as putting service over self-interest.

Organizational Culture: a Force in the 80s

The 1980s saw a plethora of books defining leadership and leadership behaviors. Two books widely read in the business sector, In Search of Excellence by Peters and Waterman and Corporate Cultures by Deal and Kennedy, also had an impact on education. Peters and Waterman (1982) suggested that successful business organizations have cultures that value people, service, quality and innovation. Deal and Kennedy (1982) observed that the distinguishing characteristic of top-performing companies was a strong identity consistent with the demands of the environment. The publication of these two books made organizational culture a major force in the restructuring of business. These books prompted companies across the nation to identify, reshape and revitalize their cultures to promote increased productivity. Culture is defined as the powerful force that resides within all organizations; it lies below the surface and guides organizational behaviors. Culture refers to a symbolic frame in organizations that has a tremendous impact upon its effectiveness.

Current Reform Efforts

Researchers and practitioners in the field of education are now reviewing the current reforms that have been implemented and analyzing the reasons why many have not made significant, on-going improvements (Deal 1990). The research has shown that an emphasis was placed on organizational systems and conditions of schools, focusing on areas such as safe and orderly climate, high student expectations, time on task and clearly stated objectives, rather than on more traditional issues of organizational structure. More recently, the literature has focused on social-cultural norms, including collaborative problemsolving, shared commitment, the development of collaborative cultures, mutual values and goals, and social norms that sustain more satisfying work environments. Effective school improvement efforts that sustain meaningful and lasting change require a transformation of an organizations fundamental character or identity. This involves letting go of old patterns and acquiring new ones.

Shaping Your Schools Culture

Establishing New Traditions

School leaders, particularly the principal, must understand the power of symbols and the elements of organizational culture, and how these phenomena impact and influence the effectiveness of their organizations. This understanding will help them re-negotiate cherished myths, sacred rituals and traditions. These must be changed in order to establish new practices that will contribute to new patterns that promote higher levels of satisfaction among all members of the organization. School improvement strategies frequently mention the importance of culture and its underlying complexities. Many articles and books have pointed out the importance of the principal as a symbolic leader. The principal is in a pivotal position to shape school culture by providing leadership that reflects a welldefined vision that symbolically builds commitment to those approaches, attitudes and behaviors that will achieve improved student learning. The organizational culture provides the principal with significant leverage for creating and managing change for improved student learning. This leverage enables the principal to construct congruence between the culture and proposed changes. The principal can make substantial changes in school effectiveness through the understanding of the symbols and culture of a school. But how much do principals know about organizational culture and its impact on changes? Another important question is how do principals view their leadership role and how is it defined by their administrators?

How Principals View their Roles

How much a principal views his or her role as strictly a manager depends upon a number of factors, some of which include: the leadership modeled at the district office; the-size and complexity of the school; personal perceptions of the principal regarding his or her role; university training; and on-the-job experience gained by working with and watching other administrators carrying out their roles and responsibilities. In many cases, principals view their work as that of a professional manager. Often principals themselves will describe colleagues as being strictly plant managers as opposed to instructional leaders, or vice versa. What is needed are principals who can combine managerial tasks with symbolic functions and actions, who are simultaneously efficient managers and effective leaders who truly see their role as centering on service rather than control.

Vision For Muslim Schools

What is their Role? Policy-makers provide the framework for education and for the schools, but it is the principal in each school who provides individual direction in implementing the framework. Principals have the responsibility for creating a school culture that will either move the school toward excellence or maintain and further the excellence that may already be there. Principals understand that to build and maintain successful schools, one has to work simultaneously on: needs and skills; goals, roles and coordination; and power and conflict. Schools are highly complex human organizations, and the work of principals and other school administrators is equally complex. The general public does not fully understand how the role of the principal has been shaped by the changes taking place in society and by the students coming to school daily. Most people I meet who ask what I do for a living respond by saying, Are you keeping those kids in line? While behavior management and student discipline take up far more time than they should, it is only one part of a very important and compelling job. Effective principals have the capacity for understanding their schools and responding to situations in symbolic as well as managerial ways. Too many principals do not understand or view their role in the symbolic way. Cultural leadership defines the leader as one who is able to analyze and understand the unique characteristics that comprise the culture of his or her school, and identify and reshape those aspects of a schools culture that are inconsistent with or hinder what he or she is trying to accomplish. The principal models cultural goals, values and norms by talking to teachers, students and parents about learning and academic goals. Cultural leadership requires the leader to be more of a philosopher and a visionary than a technician or a specialist.

The Schools Culture

Change efforts will not be successful unless they are addressed through the culture of the school, or the way things are done around here. Every school has a culture and the instructional leader (principal) is in a key position to shape the schools culture. The principal does that by applying strategies that symbolically build commitment to those approaches, attitudes and behaviors designed to achieve an organizational culture connecting people to each other and their work. In attempting to change or shape the culture of an organization or the existing patterns of behavior, it is imperative that the principal is able to identify the elements of culture and apply the shaping tools and strategies that accompany them.

Shaping Your Schools Culture

Elements of Organizational Culture A recent study of elementary principals in California focused on identifying the elements of organizational culture that contributed the most and those deemed easiest to use in shaping the school culture. Additionally, the study identified the culture-shaping tools found to contribute the most and to be easiest to use. Cultural elements influence the behavior of teachers and students. The elements of culture are important to defining and examining the strengths and weaknesses of an organization. Here is a brief definition of those elements. 1. Shared values and beliefs These are the basic concepts of an organization that form the heart of corporate or school culture. They are widely shared and understood by all the members of the organization and passed on to new members who come into the organization. 2. Heroes and heroines The essential figures in a culture personify the cultures values and demonstrate what others must do to be successful. They exemplify behavior that others will try to emulate. 3. Rites and rituals These refer to the systemic and programmed routines of day-to-day life. These are the regular ways of doing things that show employees the kind of behavior that is expected of them. 4. Communication network This refers to the primary (informal and formal) means of communication within an organization. Information is transmitted throughout the organization through storytellers and groups. 5. Stories, sagas, lore and myth These are vehicles for transmitting messages that convey the history of the organization. They interpret what goes on and are the primary (but informal) means of communication within an organization. 6. Rules (norms), rewards and sanctions These daily events are the systematic and programmed routines of day-today-life in an organization. They show organization members the kind of behaviors that are expected and accepted while reinforcing the organizations core values and beliefs. 7. Physical environment This refers to the feeling or climate that is conveyed in an organization by the physical layout and the way in which members of the organization interact with customers or other outsiders. The principals surveyed ranked the elements that contributed the most to shaping their schools organizational culture. The three top-ranked elements that contributed the most were: 1. Shared values and beliefs; 2. Communication network; and 3. Rules, rewards and sanctions.

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The three elements ranked easiest to use were: 1. Communication network; 2. Rules, rewards and sanctions; and 3. Physical environment.

Buy-in from Staff

Current research in school improvement and restructuring points out that a change in organizational culture does not take place unless there is a unification of the values and beliefs held by group members. Leaders are responsible for helping staff members develop values and beliefs that support change strategies that can have lasting effects on the organization for .the benefit of all students. Many reform efforts have failed simply because staff members were not involved in the development of the change and yet were expected to be totally responsible for the implementation. A key to embedding new values and beliefs that help employees accept change and develop new attitudes is for leaders (principals) to view their role as facilitating the development of the changes needed in the existing patterns of behavior rather than telling employees what they should be. For changes to be successful, all staff members must be involved in the development and implementation phases. Behavior does not change because of fear or edicts from administrators. Changes come through the development of beliefs shared by all group members.

Shaping Tools
Taking time to understand your organizational culture and how to strengthen it is critical to initiating any change effort. Equally important is understanding what tools the principal can use to foster needed changes in the organizational culture. Nine culture-shaping tools were rated by principals to ascertain effectiveness. The nine tools are: Modeling, teaching and coaching. Managing the communication network. Allocation of resources, time and rewards. Recognition. Focusing attention. Establishing stretch goals. Creating ceremonies and rituals. Hiring, transfering, promoting and dismissing staff. Celebrating heroines and heroes. Use of stories, sagas, lore and myth.

Shaping Your Schools Culture

Ranking of Tools
The top three culture-shaping tools identified by the principals were: 1. 2. 3. Managing the communication network. Modeling, teaching and coaching; and Allocating resources, time, rewards and recognition.

It is important to note that the same three tools also contributed the most to shaping the schools culture and were deemed the easiest to use. These are powerful tools not only for leaders in organizations but also for teachers in classrooms. Leaders who pay attention to establishing positive, open and ongoing communication systems demonstrate their ability to share power and information. The transmission of information is critical to decision-making and fosters an environment where all members feel important.

School leaders cannot reform curriculum or implement a new governance structure in schools until teachers are willing to accept reform, to take a part in it, and to teach and manage change. This will require changing the schools culture and changing the attitudes of its personnel. Reforms cannot be effective until the values and beliefs of the members of the organization are reshaped so that they are able to accept new ideas willingly and to respond to change easily. The notion that the school should look different, and that children will be engaged in different or nontraditional ways of learning can be threatening to some people. As long as leaders view their role as primarily bureaucratic (controlling the organization) rather than as facilitators of people and processes that are primarily responsible for developing all the members of the organization, the culture of the work environment will remain essentially the same. We must be centered on service from bottom to top and stop viewing our organizations as hierarchical. Bossing, telling and controlling imply that the leader knows best how to define the vision and mission of an organization. Stewardship means giving control to those closer to the work, and allowing the organizations members to define their purpose rather than leaving it up to the leader.

A d a p ted fr om : Gloria Alkire 1995 THRUST FOR EDUCATIONAL LEADERSHIP May/June 1995 (Pages 22 to 26).

Vision For Muslim Schools


Despite the excitement a vision generates, the process of building a shared vision is not always quick or easy. Visions that are fully shared take time and effort to emerge. Practical suggestions are offered for this process.

Not by Tomorrow !
Shared visions emerge from personal visions. This is how they derive their energy and how they foster commitment. My vision is not whats important to you. The only vision that motivates you is your vision. It is not that people care only about their personal self-interest. Rather, what is stressed is that caring is personal. It is rooted in an individuals own set of values, concerns, and aspirations. This is why genuine caring about a shared vision is rooted in personal visions. This simple truth is lost on many leaders, who decide that their organization must develop a vision by tomorrow! Organizations intent on building shared visions continually encourage members to develop their personal visions. If people dont have their own vision, all they can do is sign up for someone elses. The result is compliance, never commitment. On the other hand, people with a strong sense of personal direction can join together to create a powerful synergy toward what I/we truly want. Personal mastery is the bedrock for developing shared visions. This means not only personal vision, but commitment to the truth and creative tension the hallmarks of personal mastery. Shared vision can generate levels of creative tension that go far beyond individuals comfort levels. Those who will contribute the most toward realizing a lofty vision will be those who can hold this creative tension: remain clear on the vision and continue to inquire into current reality. They will be the ones who believe deeply in their ability to create their future, because that is what they experience personality. In encouraging personal vision, organizations must be careful not to infringe on individual freedoms. No one can give another his vision, nor even force him to develop a vision. However, there are positive actions that can be taken to create a climate that encourages personal vision. The most direct way is for leaders who have a sense of vision to communicate it in such a way that others are encouraged to share their visions. This is the art of visionary leadership how shared visions are built from personal visions.

From Personal Vision to Shared Visions

When a group of people come to share a vision for an organization, each person sees his own picture of the organization at its best. Each shares responsibility for the whole, not just for his piece. But the component pieces are not identical. Each represents the whole image from a different point of view. Its as if you were to look through holes poked in a window shade; each hole would offer a unique angle for viewing the whole image. So, too, is each individuals vision of the whole unique. We each have our own way of seeing the larger vision. How do we make the image become more intense, more lifelike? When more people come to share a common vision, the vision may not change fundamentally. But it becomes more alive, more real in the sense of a mental reality that people can truly imagine achieving. They now have partners; the vision no

From Personal Vision to Shared Visions

longer rests on their shoulders alone. Early on, when they are nurturing an individual vision, people may say it is my vision. But as the shared vision develops, it becomes both my vision and our vision. The first step in mastering the discipline of building shared visions is to give up traditional notions that visions are always announced from on high or come from an organizations institutionalized planning processes. In the traditional hierarchical organization, no one questioned that the vision emanated from the top. Often, the big picture guiding the school wasnt even shared all people needed to know were their marching orders, so that they could carry out their tasks in support of the larger vision.

Disappointing Results
Using the traditional top-down approach to creating the vision produces results that are often disappointing for several reasons. First, such a vision is often a one-shot vision, single effort at providing overarching direction and meaning to schools strategy. Once its written, management assumes that they have now discharged their visionary duties. Writing a vision statement can be a first step in building shared vision but, alone, it rarely makes a vision come alive within an organization. The second problem with top management going off to write their vision statement is that the resulting vision does not build on peoples personal visions. Often, personal visions are ignored altogether in the search for a strategic vision. Or the official vision reflects only the personal vision of one or two people. There is little opportunity for inquiry and testing at every level so that people feel they understand and own the vision. As a result, the new official vision also fails to foster energy and commitment. It simply does not inspire people. In fact, sometimes, it even generates little passion among the top management team who created it. Lastly, vision is not a solution to a problem. If it is seen in that light, when the problem of low morale or unclear strategic direction goes away, the energy behind the vision will go away also. Building shared vision must be seen as a central element of the daily work of leaders. It is ongoing and neverending. It is actually part of a larger leadership activity: designing and nurturing the governing ideas of the enterprise not only its vision per se, but its purpose and core values as well. Sometimes, managers expect shared visions to emerge from a strategic planning process. But for all the same reasons that most top-down visioning processes fail, most strategic planning also fails to nurture genuine vision. This is not to say that visions cannot emanate from the top. Often, they do. But sometimes they emanate from personal visions of individuals who are not in positions of authority. Sometimes they just bubble up from people interacting at many levels. The origin of the vision is much less important than the process whereby it comes to be shared. It is not truly a shared vision until it connects with the personal visions of people throughout the schools. For those in leadership positions, what is most important is to remember that their visions are still personal visions. Just because they occupy a position of leadership does not mean that their personal visions are automatically the schools vision.

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Ultimately, leaders intent on building shared visions must be willing to continually share their personal visions. They must also be prepared to ask, Will you follow me? When visions start in the middle of an organization, the process of sharing and listening is essentially the same as when they originate at the top. But it may take longer, especially if the vision has implications for the entire organization.

We Dont Know How to . . .

The fundamental problem is usually that everyone argues about the what but no one knows the how to. Yet, we all feel we can see an end result that is really worth going for. We dont know exactly what it would look like, but the idea of working together just feels right. Looking back, it is like what they say about Kennedy when he announced the Man on the Moon vision we knew only about 15 percent of what we needed to know to get there. But we knew it was right. Teachers often ask, How do we promote it? How can we make it happen? My only response is, This has got to be our vision not mine, or it will never happen. I knew the guys at the top had to be enrolled, and the Principals job is to help others lead. By enrolling others, they too would become messengers. Once the idea the what starts to take hold, the school has to have overlapping programs to tackle the how tos. Despite the excitement that a vision generates, the process of building shared vision is not always glamorous. Mangers who are skilled at building shared visions talk about the process in ordinary terms. Talking about our visions just gets woven into day-to-day life. Most artists dont get very excited about the process of creating art. They get excited about the results. Being a visionary leader is not about giving speeches and inspiring the troops. How I spend my day is pretty much the same as how any executive spends his day. Being a visionary leader is about solving day-to-day problems with the vision in mind. Visions that are truly shared take time to emerge. They grow as a by-product of interactions of individual visions. Experience suggests that visions that are genuinely shared require ongoing conversation where individuals not only feel free to express their dreams but learn how to listen to each others dreams. Out of this listening, new insights into what is possible gradually emerge. Listening is often more difficult than talking, especially for strong-willed managers with definite ideas of what is needed. It requires extraordinary openness and willingness to entertain a diversity of ideas. This does not imply that we must sacrifice our vision for the large cause. Rather, we must allow multiple visions to coexist, listening for the right course of action that transcends and unifies all our individual visions.


From Personal Vision to Shared Visions

Spreading Visions: Compliance, Enrollment and Commitment

Real commitment is still rare in most schools. In general, 90 percent of the time, what passes for commitment is compliance. Today, it is common to hear managers talk of getting people to buy into the vision. For many this suggests a sales process, where I sell and you buy. Yet, there is a world of difference between selling and enrolling. Selling generally means getting someone to do something that he might not do if they were in full possession of all the facts. Enrolling by contrast, literally means placing ones name on the roll. Enrollment implies free choice, while being sold often does not. Enrollment is the process of becoming part of something by choice. Committed describes a state of being not only enrolled but feeling fully responsible for making the vision happen. I can be thoroughly enrolled in your vision. I can genuinely want it to occur. Yet, it is still your vision. I will take actions as the need arises, but I will not spend my waking hours looking for what to do next. For example, people are often enrolled in social causes out of genuine desire, for example, to see particular inequities righted. Once a year they might make a donation to help in a fund-raising campaign. But when they are committed, the cause can count on them. They will do whatever it takes to make the vision real. The vision is pulling them to action. Committed people bring their unique energy toward creating a vision. In most organizations, there are relatively few people enrolled and even fewer committed. The great majority of people are in a state of compliance. Compliant followers go along with a vision. They do what is expected of them. They support the vision to some degree. But they are not truly enrolled or committed. Compliance is often confused with enrollment and commitment. In part, this occurs because compliance has prevailed for so long in most organizations, we dont know how to recognize real commitment. It is also because there are several levels of compliance, some of which lead to behavior that looks a great deal like enrollment and commitment.


Commitment: Enrollment: Genuine compliance: Formal compliance: Grudging compliance: Noncompliance:

Wants it. Will make it happen. Creates whatever is needed. Wants it. Will do whatever can be done within the spirit of the law. Sees the benefits of the vision. Does everything expected and more. Follows the letter of the law. Good soldiers. On the whole, sees the benefits of the vision. Does whats expected and no more. Pretty good soldier. Does not see the benefits of the vision. But also does not want to lose job. Does enough of whats expected because he has to, but also lets it be known that he is not really on board. Does not see benefits of vision and will not do whats expected. I wont do it; you cant make me. Neither for nor against the vision. No interest. No energy. Is it five oclock yet?


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The Various Attitudes

In most organizations, most people are in states of formal or genuine compliance with respect to the organizations goals and ground rules. They go along with the program, sincerely trying to contribute. On the other hand, people in noncompliance or grudging compliance usually stand out. They are opposed to the goals or ground rules and let their opposition be known, either through inaction or (if they are grudgingly compliant) through malicious obedience Ill do it just to prove that it wont work. They may not speak out publicly against the organizations goals, but their views are known nonetheless. Differences between the varying states of compliance can be subtle. Most problematic is the state of genuine compliance, which is often mistaken for enrollment or commitment. The prototypical good soldier of genuine compliance will do whatever is expected of him, willingly. I believe in the people behind the vision; Ill do whatever is needed and more, to the fullest of my ability. In his own mind, the person operating in genuine compliance often thinks of himself as committed. He is, in fact, committed, but only to being part of the team. In fact, from his behavior on the job, it is often very difficult to distinguish someone who is genuinely compliant from someone who is enrolled or committed. An organization made up of genuinely compliant people would be light-years ahead of most organizations in productivity and cost effectiveness. People would not have to be told what to do more than once. They would be responsive. They would be upbeat and positive in their attitude and manner. Yet, there is a world of difference between compliance and commitment. The committed person brings an energy, passion, and excitement that cannot be generated if you are only compliant, even genuinely compliant. The committed person doesnt play by the rules of the game. He is responsible for the game. If the rules of the game stand in the way of achieving the vision, he will find ways to change the rules. A group of people truly committed to a common vision is an awesome force. They can accomplish the seemingly impossible! What then is the difference between being genuinely compliant and enrolled and committed? The answer is deceptively simple. People who are enrolled or committed truly want the visions. Genuinely compliant people accept the vision. They may want it in order to get something else for example, to keep their job, or to make their boss happy, or to get a promotion. But they do not truly want the vision in and of itself. It is not their own vision (or, at least, they do not know that it is their own vision). Althought it is highly desired, shared commitment to a vision can be an elusive goal. Traditional organizations did not care about enrollment and commitment. The command and control hierarchy required only compliance. Even today, many managers doubt whether the energy released through commitment can be controlled and directed. So, we settle for compliance and content ourselves with moving people up the compliance ladder.


From Personal Vision to Shared Visions

Guidelines for Enrollment and Commitment

Enrollment is a natural process that springs from your genuine enthusiasm for a vision and your willingness to let others come to their own choice. Be enrolled yourself. There is no point attempting to encourage another to be enrolled when you are not. That is selling, not enrolling and will, at best, produce a form of superficial agreement and compliance. Worse, it will sow the seeds for future resentment. Be on the level. Dont inflate benefits or sweep problems under the rug. Describe the vision as simply and honestly as you can. Let the other person choose. You dont have to convince another of the benefits of a vision. In fact, efforts you might make to persuade him to become enrolled will be seen as manipulative and actually preclude enrollment. The more willing you are for him to make a free choice, the freer he will feel. There are many times when managers need compliance. They may want enrollment or commitment, but cannot accept anything below formal compliance. If that is the case, I recommend that you be on the level about it: I know you may not agree wholeheartedly with the new direction, but at this juncture it is where the management team is committed to heading. I need your support to help it happen. Being open about the need for compliance removes hypocrisy. It also makes it easier for people to come to their choices, which may, over time, include enrollment. The hardest lesson for many managers to face is that, ultimately, there is nothing you can do to get another person to enroll or commit. Enrollment and commitment require freedom of choice. The guidelines above simply establish conditions most favorable to enrollment, but they do not cause enrollment. Commitment likewise is very personal; efforts to force it will, at best, foster compliance.

Anchoring Vision in a Set of Governing Ideas

Building a shared vision is actually only one piece of a larger activity: developing the governing ideas for the enterprise, its vision, purpose or mission, and core values. A vision not consistent with values that people live by day-by-day will not only fail to inspire genuine enthusiasm, it will often foster outright cynicism. These governing ideas answer three critical questions: What?, Why? and How? Vision is the What? the picture of the future we seek to create. Purpose (or mission) is the Why?. It is the schools answer to the question, Why do we exist? Great organizations have a larger sense of purpose that transcends providing for the needs of shareholders and employees. They seek to contribute to the world in some unique way, to add a distinctive source of value.

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Core values answer the question How do we want to act, consistent with our mission, along the path toward achieving our vision? A schools values might include respect, integrity, openness, honesty, freedom, equal opportunity, merit, or loyalty. They describe how the school wants life to be on a day-to-day basis, while pursuing the vision. Taken as a unit, all three governing ideas answer the question, What do we believe in? We must recognize that there is a burning need for people to feel part of an ennobling mission. If it is absent, many will seek fulfilment only in outside interests instead of in their work. But we have also discovered that stating a mission or purpose in words is not enough. People need visions to make the purpose more concrete and tangible. We need to learn to paint pictures of the type of schools we want to be. A simple vision for a school may be unquestioned superiority. This simple term has great meaning. It envisions an organization that serves the children in unique ways, maintains a reputation for quality and responsibility, and creates a unique environment for its staff. Core values are necessary to help people with day-to-day decisions-making. Purpose is very abstract. Vision is long term. People need guiding stars to navigate and make decisions day-to-day. But core values are only helpful if they can be translated into concrete behaviours. For example, the core value of openness (for which most people work long and hard) requires the skills of reflection and inquiry within an overall context of trusting and supporting one another.
A d a p ted fr om : Peter M Senge 1990 The Fifth Discipline : The Art and Practice of the Learning Organisation. New York : Double day Currency-


It is probably quite common for principals who are about to leave their position to reflect on changes they would make if they were to become a principal again. Their conclusions could be useful to others at an earlier stage in their career. One principal in the United States, Gilbert Weldy, had this to say (NASSP Bulletin, November 1986): I would speak out more for what I believe.
I would try harder to keep in touch with the latest knowledge and ideas. I would pay more attention to the outcomes of schooling on the performance of the pupils and teachers. I would spend more time talking to teachers about what they are doing. I would do all in my power to work with my teachers as a team. I would not try to be Mr Everything to Everybody. There are others on the staff whose skills need to be used.


Project Success: Outstanding Principals Speak Out


I feel very fortunate to have been privileged to receive an excellent education in the effective school movement and effective school improvement in general. . . . Three conclusions describe my route to success: (1) Excellence is a qualitative phenomenon. Doing more does not equal better. High performers focus on qualitative, not quantitative improvements. (2) Talent is a useless concept. (3) Excellence is mundane. Excellence is accomplished through the doing of performers, ordinary in themselves, performed persistently and carefully, habitualized; compounded together, added up over time.

Thats one high school principals response to our request, Please tell us why you are considered to be an outstanding school administrator. High school principals from every state in the USA were nominated as outstanding school administrators for our research, Project Success. We first asked officials from educational institutions, professional organizations, and universities for names of outstanding administrators. After receiving the nominations of over 1,000 school administrators, we wrote to all nominees. We explained the purpose of Project Success, indicated that someone had nominated them as outstanding, and made our request. Eventually, 491 administrators submitted usable responses; 89 of those were high school principals. The responses provided revealing glimpses into the lives of outstanding administrators. From the responses we received, we identified eleven factors that contributed to the professional success of these men and women.

I. Hard Work
A successful administrator volunteered that the willingness to work the long, long hours required in a senior high principalship was a key to success. Others agreed. I work hard. My work week is rarely less than sixty hours and frequently more. I take no coffee breaks and usually eat at my desk while reading the mail or returning calls. I carry paper work and reading home to free myself during the day. I love my work! I see a great deal of humor in it. I look forward to doing it for a long time. It is a pleasure to come to work each day, even bad days. No matter how high the stress, there is always someone out there just waiting for you to make a difference in their world. One only has to leave the office for a few moments to find that person. How long, stressful and tough can a day be if one can make a difference in someone elses life? Even the worst day can have a happy ending if one is able to do that. A balanced perspective is needed to cope with the heavy demands on principals who put in sixty or more hours per week. I work hard, am well organized and try not to waste time. I also try to balance personal, professional, and family time. The final word was offered by another administrator: I try to go to work every day in a Thank God, its Monday frame of mind. Successful administrators work hard, take time for family and self, and revel in the challenges of the principalship.

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2. Putting Students First

Outstanding administrators work hard with a clear purpose. As one principal noted, It is important to have love and belief in the worth and potential of all students. One after another, respondents trumpeted the need to place students first: All students can learn, and schools exist to educate all students. Therefore, student learning must be the first priority of all the adults in our schools. All of my efforts are directed toward answering the question, How does this activity benefit the student? Sometimes hard decisions have to be made which people do not like, but what should be considered is that they have to be made for the good of the education of youth. The first priority for successful administrators is the best interests of students.

3. High Expectations
Outstanding administrators prod students and staff members alike to reach their potential. In one administrators school, excellence was the standard to which everyone was held: Perhaps the greatest contributing factor is our adoption of a school culture that focuses on three imperatives: (1) staff initiative, (2) a desire for continuous improvement, and (3) a belief that everyone makes a difference. We are a school family that includes custodial, clerical, and food service staff as well as students, professional staff, and parents. Regardless of our job description, everyone must be committed to the achievement of excellence. To another administrator, excellence was to be expected but not a destination that could ever be reached: While I feel and communicate pride in our achievements, I understand that excellence is not perfection and am always seeking further improvements.

4. Community Outreach
Secondary school principals work with many communities students, staff, parents, patrons, taxpayers, senior citizens, adult learners, and members of special interest groups. One respondent gave recognition for success to the need to know your staff, students, and community, and to involve staff, students, parents, and community members in the decision making. Another principal elaborated upon the need to think beyond the rooms, offices, and grounds of the physical plant: Much of my success has come as a result of my ability to effectively serve as a facilitator and catalyst both within our school and in its outreach into the community. It is my responsibility to project the mission and goals of the school, which are based on expectations of the board/ administration, to teachers, students, and staff with enthusiasm. It is important that they be sold on the importance of each aspect of the mission and develop strong ownership in the process. Outstanding administrators are aware of the importance of the relationship between a school and its community. What would a high school be like without support from parents, community leaders, and residents or without linkages to public and private agencies? Striving to make the school a part of, linked to, and supported by community members distinguishes outstanding principals.


Project Success: Outstanding Principals Speak Out

5. Positive Staff Relationships

How do outstanding high school principals view their staff members? Principals often attributed success to their staff members and not to themselves: If I do have any outstanding qualities, certainly on the top of the list would be the ability to identify and select superior people to work with. They invariably make me look good if only by association, and their main contribution, of course, is to create a truly outstanding educational environment. One principals comment provides insight into the importance of interpersonal skills: I am convinced that successful people are people who are successful with people.

6. Professional Growth
High school principals also recognized a need to improve themselves: My professional growth is far from over. I do strive to continuously stress changing paradigms/ mindsets. . . . Due to my background, I firmly believe that life (including education) is constantly changing. I want to not only stay even with change, but also have a half-step on it. Ive been very involved in community, state, and national organizations. These educational, administrative and service organizations have helped me network with other successful people. One principal attributed professional growth as first among several reasons for success while another principal cited professional development as the final factor in success. There are three reasons for the successes Ive had as principal. First, I am willing to continue to learn and grow as a professional. . . . . The final factor that I feel has been responsible for my success as an administrator is that I strive to remain current in my knowledge base. I am always reading, going to school (doctoral candidate), attending selected conferences, and dialoguing with my colleagues. I need these experts to continue my growth and renew my zeal for this profession. Success comes to administrators who place great importance upon professional growth regardless of where it is valued.

7. Clear Personal Philosophy

We were impressed with belief statements that outstanding high school principals proffered, such as: I believe all persons each and every one have worth and dignity, that differences of gender, race, culture, and physical/mental/emotional characteristics do not make an individual more or less worthwhile. Thus I offer others respect, appreciation, and personal encouragement. I believe in leading [by] using principles to guide decision making, such as integrity, fairness, humility, crediting others for good work, and service. I believe the most important thing to success at a job or career is liking what you do and I do. Respondents held strong beliefs and expressed deep commitment to them. Their statements gave evidence of a well-defined educational philosophy.

Vision For Muslim Schools


8. Risk Taking
Although the principals used we and our in writing about some topics, they invariably placed I at the beginning of statements of belief and of risk taking, thereby highlighting personal responsibility for beliefs and actions. Several wove thoughts about risk taking with comments about change, innovation, staying fresh, and, not surprisingly, excellence: I am a very open person, a risk taker who is not afraid to voice an opinion even if that opinion is not shared by all. Even though I work hard to solve or control problems, Im willing to risk having problems if there is even a possibility of a student experiencing success. I am also a risk taker. I have been able to change over time to meet changing conditions. I do new things every year. It keeps me fresh and I dont become stagnant. I am very active in my profession. I believe I would be considered an innovator. I am always in pursuit of excellence. Risk taking does have its liabilities, but principals saw it as a necessary component of the job a fundamental factor in effecting change.

9. Effective Communication
Excellent communication skills are essential for successful administrators. Two respondents paired communication skills with sensitivity (listening) as good communication is a two-way process and interactive in nature. I consider my communications skills to be the single most important aspect of my success as a high school principal. Whether I am dealing with staff, students, parents, school board members, or other administrators, I must be able to express my views in clear, appropriate language. Often, I must attempt to persuade others to my point of view. The ability to respond to others in a sensitive fashion is critical to the effectiveness of a principal. I am very purposeful with all my communication. I am a good and attentive listener.

10. Vision Setting

The executives of Japanese corporations purportedly plan 250 years into the future! Executives elsewhere seldom plan that far ahead. High school administrators, however, had better have a vision for their schools if only for the immediate future. I consider myself a visionary. ... I have a strong idea of what I would like [my] high school, and all schools, for that matter, to become. ... I know that I must sell my vision and solicit the contributions and ideas of others. As a visionary, I see the importance of a shared vision as the guiding light for educational development. As a leader, I also see myself as a facilitator of this process. I view myself as a principle-centered leader. 1 have committed myself to doing what I feel is right as opposed to what is easy or traditional. Often times this involves some risk taking and controversy; but I feel overall that a true test of my decisions and actions is how aligned these are with my principles.


Project Success: Outstanding Principals Speak Out

For two respondents, their view, if not vision, of their responsibilities was a positive one: I generally see challenges instead of problems. I firmly believe that in life you will find whatever it is you look for. I always look for the positive and best in people and situations and have always been surrounded by wonderful students and teachers.

11. Collaborative Leadership

The comments of respondents relative to leadership focused upon sound working relationships with others: I embrace, promote and adhere to a collaborative, collegial leadership style. I attempt to involve all constituencies in decisions which impact on them. I particularly involve the school staff in all aspects of the decision-making processes and procedures because I honestly believe that they are professionals and ought to be treated in a manner which is indicative of that status. Many times we hear or read this philosophy professed but we dont always see it implemented. Leaders must enable and share decision making; must (a) be able to work effectively within ambiguous and changing circumstances; (b) be able coaches; (c) manage change; (d) create dissatisfaction; (e) forge teams and interdependencies; (f) craft solutions to unique problems; and (g) create comprehensive ongoing learning environments for students and all members of the school community. I believe that principals should provide leadership to enable the school community to get involved in school problem solving. I do not assume that all those in the school community have the necessary skills to work effectively together. Therefore, school team training is essential in helping the group become more cohesive and problem-solving oriented. . . . Training includes developing skills in communication, problem solving, positive attention, effective confrontations, eliminating self-defeating behavior, and action planning. Successful leadership at the school level consists of (a) a style that is collaborative and collegial, (b) aspects that are multi-dimensional in nature, and (c) training programs that develop leadership skills in others. All traits and characteristics of leadership tie in with other key dimensions. No single respondent had a corner on success. What we ascertained is that outstanding high school principals have definite ideas about what has contributed to their success. Perhaps each of these principals has acted on the advice of the ancient Greeks Know thyself and has capitalized upon personal strengths. What better way for principals to be a role model for students than to strive personally to be better in all things persistently and carefully, habitualized; compounded together, added up over time.

A d a p ted fr om : F.C.Wendel, F.A. Hoke, and R.G. Joekel THE CLEARING HOUSE September/October 1993 Vol.67 No 1. (Pages 52 to 54)

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What are the qualities that make a principal effective? This article provokes much self-reflection.

This year, it was my job as Superintendent to select two new employees: a junior high and a high school principal. In a small district, those appointments can have a positive impact on the districts mission. Before the selection process began, I thought about the qualities I wanted in a principal. Eventually I focused on the concept of school effectiveness, particularly on my expectations of an effective principal. Ron Edmonds, in his school effectiveness research, described an effective principal as having high expectations for students. He or she establishes a strong school culture, emphasizes the schools primary role of increasing student achievement, and develops a positive environment that is conducive to learning. I agree with all these factors. But I would emphasize some others that are very prominent in todays literature. They not only promote effective leadership, but are necessary for the survival of new principals.

Promote Communication
Some principals are doomed from the beginning because they cannot communicate effectively with parents, teachers and students. It cannot be overstated that the ability to communicate with all types of audiences supports everything that is successful at the site. To earn the respect of students, principals must be available to students for idle chatter as well as serious counseling. They must be perceived as fair able to listen objectively to all sides of an issue. Parents want a sensitive ear. They want the principal to acknowledge their concerns in a manner that reflects interest and attentiveness. Staff members want a principal with a vision. But an effective principal must be open to differing points of view and acknowledge that there may be better ways to achieve common purposes. And under all circumstances, effective principals take responsibility for their mistakes. Foolish pride has doomed more principals than inadvertent errors.

Be a Team Builder
To implement successful programs, principals must be team builders. They will have to work more toward building coalitions in order to ensure that programs and policies are accepted. Time will have to be spent discussing issues with teachers, parents, other administrators and business leaders through advisory committees and parent and community forums. Everyone today is concerned about education, and the principal has to carefully orchestrate how these numerous audiences will come together toward a common purpose.

Deal with the Wider Environment

Schools exist within a turbulent environment. They are continually faced with demands from outside groups that are too numerous to document. In some cases, the issues are legitimate and the concerns are addressed. At other times, the problems can only be addressed with additional time


Effective Principals: A Superintendents Perspective

and resources. And in some cases, personal values and issues that a district cannot legally address are involved such as school prayer and vouchers. Effective principals can wade through the turbulence if they have strong philosophical foundations based on knowledge and experience. They can use this as a filter to keep their schools focused on the issues that will enhance the instructional program. They will be able to provide a sense of security to staff within an ever-changing environment. If they fail, they will be continually dealing with the stress that uncertainty creates.

Exemplify Assertive Leadership

Effective principals are advocates for their students and teachers and want the best for their schools. They always look for better ways to educate children, rather than excuses that minimize a total effort. Their schools are clean and order is prevalent throughout the campus. A safe and comfortable learning environment is emphasized. Principals expect discipline and good classroom management skills to be the key to developing responsibility, pride and self-respect among students. Effective principals spend a great deal of time in classrooms to ensure that this type of environment exists. Effective principals bring about assertive leadership among staff members; they foster a risk-taking environment. They encourage employees to assume responsibility for a task. They want their potential leaders to use these chances as an opportunity to show their wares and extend their skills. And when the task is completed, principals pass on compliments as well as feedback for future improvement.

Encourage Change
Effective principals are planners. They have a clear vision of what issues, problems and demands their schools will face in the near future. As a statement of what is to come, this vision is clear and concise but flexible enough to allow for changing circumstances. Issues that define the vision are constantly identified and modified and alternatives selected and prioritized. With staff, effective principals foster and encourage change that focuses on student achievement as the primary goal. Teachers are encouraged to tinker with the system and develop new strategies and approaches to deal with the new challenges facing schools. As Michael Fullan recognizes in his book Change Forces effective principals are designers of change. They mentor, coach and help employees to learn during these periods of exploration and self-discovery. Educators must be sensitive to cultural diversity issues. The idea of a dominant culture that integrates students into the larger society has given way to the premise that students who come from different ethnic groups should maintain their native culture as the foundation for developing a strong self concept. Principals will have to acknowledge this diversity and encourage curriculum and instructional approaches that recognize diversity and acknowledge its contribution to the greater society.

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Create a Safe School Environment

As students become more polarized along racial and ethnic lines, gang violence will increase in our schools. This phenomenon is no longer restricted to urban settings. Solutions will require the collaboration of law enforcement and educational and social service agencies. Principals will have to become more familiar with the gang culture that exists in schools. Tighter security standards will have to be implemented. Principals will have to create support mechanisms and problem-solving techniques for students who want to resist the pressure of joining gangs. This will be an ongoing problem one that school administrators will have to continually deal with.

Share Power
As the pressure for improved student achievement increases, principals and teachers will have to revisit their basic understanding of how students learn. For teachers and parents to buy into the necessary changes, principals will have to feel comfortable sharing power. Principals will need to acquire skills in the areas of communication and conflict management, active listening, problem solving, futures planning and consensus building. They will also have to ensure that teachers and parents have the skills to identify problems, generate alternatives, select solution criteria and settle on feasible alternatives. More important, effective principals must recognize that management by directive will not be accepted. Teachers and parents not only expect to be consulted, they are pushing for leadership roles in making major decisions.

Understand the School Culture

Effective principals recognize that there are norms, beliefs and attitudes that characterize a school. This so-called way of doing things is important to understand because if properly interpreted, it can be a tremendous force to harness for school improvement and change. Schools have recognized leaders and traditions established by staff members who have been together for several years. These factors do not have to hinder principals in their quest to change a school, but they are areas that a principal must understand before moving forward aggressively with a change agenda. Principals who disregard the schools culture face formidable obstacles.

Establish credibility
In their book Credibility, Kouzes and Posner state that effective leaders establish credibility among those they lead by being competent, inspiring and honest. Effective principals extend their skills by getting advanced degrees and getting involved in their professional associations so they can network with other competent professionals.


Effective Principals: A Superintendents Perspective

Effective principals are also inspiring individuals. They are a schools best cheerleader, but they also quietly exude confidence, caring and compassion for staff members and students. They lead by example. They motivate people to reach beyond their limits for the sake of children and set the same standard for themselves. But most important, effective principals are people of integrity. What they say, they do. They adhere to certain fundamental principles in their life. These principles guide their words, actions and decisions, even during times of adversity. They are quietly strong individuals who can be counted upon as a steadying force. Credibility is the most endearing quality in an effective principal.

Summing up
Effective principals have a positive impact on a schools mission. They develop a team atmosphere by openly and regularly communicating with parents, students and staff. They recognize that a school has a unique culture, but every school exists in a wider environment that extends beyond the schools walls. Effective principals work successfully with community and staff members to identify issues and encourage change. They promote student achievement, recognize cultural diversity and insist upon safe schools. But most important, they are leaders with integrity as exemplified by their honesty, sincerity and compassion for others.
R ef er en ces
1. Fullan, Michael. (1993) CHANGE FORCES New York : The Palmer Press. 2. Kouzes, James and Posner, Barry (1993) CREDIBILITY San Francisco : Jossey-Bass Publishers.

A d a p ted fr om :
John Grez 1995 THRUST FOR EDUCATIONAL LEADERSHIP May/June 1995 (Pages 15 to 17).

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1. Sets the Vision 1.1 Inspires the whole school community with a passion. 1.2 Develops a set of shared beliefs and values. 1.3 Creates consensus about the vision. 2. Communicates the Vision 2.1 Articulates the vision clearly and widely. 2.2 Displays the vision visually. 2.3 Bonds all stakeholders together with a common purpose. 4.4 Encourages all to act pro-actively to move from the present reality to the dream. 4.5 Moves others towards a commitment to the vision. 3. Monitors the Vision 3.1 Pays attention to the vision. 3.2 Realises it is a process - a series of smaller actions. 3.2 Reflects on the progress made, and keeps track of what still has to be done. 3.3 Is prepared to deal with confrontations. 4. Celebrates the Vision 4.1 Finds creative ways of symbolising it. 4.2 Gives recognition for progress made. 4.3 Finds occasions to celebrate the progress made. 5. Accepts Responsibility 5.1 For giving the enterprise direction. 5.2 For keeping the momentum going. 5.3 For mediating when differing emphases occur.


Group Bonding

Factors which Bind Members to a Group 1. Sharing experiences in the group over time 2. Developing close relationships 3. Being proud of the group and satisfied with membership 4. Developing a common language. 5. A growing sense of obligation and of responsibility 6. Receiving positive feedback from colleagues 7. Being physically close to others, which increases the frequency of interaction 8. Recognition of common interests and purpose 9. Responses to skilled leadership 10. Absence of disruptive members and awkward situations 11. Perception that the group offers protection against threat from outside the group 12. Intimacy of groups of a small size 13. Existence of a good communication pattern 14. Perception that the group is effective 15. Members attaching considerable meaning to the group

Result of Bonding within the Group 1. Facilitates the flow of information 2. Reduces anxiety 3. Effects change 4. Increases likelihood of members being susceptible to the influence of their peers 5. Increases group pressure and thus greater conformity 6. Excludes deviants 7. Allows greater freedom to initiate new ideas 8. Increases the acceptance of responsibility by all members 9. Generates mutual trust 10. Reduces absenteeism and withdrawal 11. Makes the common goals most important 12. Makes members willing to defend each other and the group against external attack 13. Engenders an increased willingness to endure frustration to achieve the ends of the groups.

Vision For Muslim Schools



As each goose flaps its wings, it creates an uplift for the bird following. By flying in a V formation, the whole flock adds 71% more flying range than if each bird flew alone. People who share a common direction and sense of community can get where they are going quicker and easier because they are travelling on the thrust of one another.

When a goose falls out of formation, it suddenly feels the drag and resistance of trying to fly alone and quickly gets back into formation to take advantage of the lifting power of birds immediately in front. If we have as much sense as a goose, we will join in formations with those who are headed where we want to go.

When the lead goose gets tired, it rotates back into the formation and another goose flies in the point position. It pays to take turns doing the tasks and sharing leadership. With people, as with gees, it pays to be interdependent with one another.

The geese in formation honk from behind to encourage those up front to keep up their speed. We need to make sure our honking from behind is encouraging - not something less helpful.

When a goose gets sick or wounded or shot down, two geese drop out of formation and follow their fellow member down to help provide protection. They stay with this member of the flock until he or she is able to fly again or dies. Then they launch out on their own, with another formation, or to catch up with their own flock. If we have as much sense as the geese, well stand by one another.