News: Qualities Desired in International Heads of School - Jun 28, 2014
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Saturday, June 28, 2014General News

Qualities Desired in International Heads of School

Because Senior Associate Dr. Ralph Jahr has conducted over 150 Head of School searches in the last fifteen years, he was honored to supply authors Laura Roberts and Steven V. Mancuso with data for their research on the question: What kind of international school leaders are in demand around the world? The results were published in an online article June 6, 2014 in the Journal of Research in International Education.

Time and time again, Ralph and other Search Associates have traveled the world, meeting with school boards administrative teams, and constituent groups on-site to determine the desired skills, characteristics, and personal qualities school boards and search committees would like their next director or superintendent to embody. Roberts and Mancuso remind us in their article,

"Their choice is critical because effective school leadership has a significant bearing on student achievement" (Edmonds, 1979; Griffith, 2004; Leithwood et al., 2004; Leithwood and Jantzi, 2005; Levine and Lezotte, 1995; Valentine and Prater, 2011; Waters et al., 2003).

Roberts and Mancuso asked Ralph for copies of job announcements for leadership positions- such as school heads and principals. In all they looked at advertisements from eighty-four schools representing sixty-four countries spanning six continents.

Their analysis showed that the qualities most schools abroad are looking for are those of the Transformational Leadership style. They seek a leader with high ethical standards who inspires trust and respect as a mentor. Such a leader is enthusiastic and optimistic - a good listener who recognizes everyone's need to achieve but also appreciates their differences. She or he knows how to delegate, while at the same time monitoring performance unobtrusively. Additionally, this leader encourages creativity and is always open to new ideas for school improvement. In short, Ralph says schools are looking for

"…God on a good day."

Schools often value other leadership styles, such as Managerial, Instructional, or Collaborative/Distributive, though interestingly, Child-Centered Leadership is in much less demand. Generally they want to hire people with excellent interpersonal skills and a good sense of humor, people who are comfortable with diversity and who can inspire colleagues do their best. This is the humane and caring style found in the Transformational Leadership model.

The results of the study serve not only aspiring candidates, but also the teacher training programs and graduate schools whose objective is to prepare them for leadership positions. The research suggests that universities training graduate students for leadership positions should consider modifying their coursework for training in Transformational Leadership. Conversely, since the trend has revealed Child-Centered Leadership skills are in less demand, graduate programs might be wise to consider placing emphasis on other aspects of Transformational Leadership.

Expertise is required beyond finance, policy, and school law. For example the Principals' Training Center for International School Leadership not only offers the aforementioned practical skills for school leaders, but they also train students in the affective domains incorporated in the Transformational Leadership style.


Did You Know…?

Senior Associate Michael Williams is a past president of the Association of China and Mongolia International Schools.