Top 10 qualities of top principals

The principal is the single most powerful person in a school district. Their leadership makes the weather for staff and students, and the culture they create is tangible. It follows that top principals tend to have similar positive qualities. Here are ten that top my list:

  1. They understand service leadership. They understand that their job is to help teachers, staff, and students to do theirs.
  2. They bring out the best in people. Principals who do this spend less time battling the worst in people.
  3. They are independent thinkers. Great principals answer to their own principles before administration, staff, or parents.
  4. They are current on almost everything. The best principals read and learn a lot about technology, teaching, research, and society.
  5. They are relationship builders. They are welcome in any setting because they are seen as a teammate, not an enemy.
  6. They treat all students like they treat their own children. They are advocates, and own the responsibility to help kids succeed.
  7. They expect great teaching, and know how to cultivate and motivate to get it. They do not allow mediocrity.
  8. They ask lots of questions, and reflect genuinely on the answers. They are great listeners.
  9. They know how to leverage what already works, not re-invent the wheel.
  10. They are personable, and garner respect through professionalism and kindness.
Are these the people we have leading our schools? If so, education can only improve. If not, there is little doubt why schools struggle. Leadership matters.



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