Humble School Leaders

By Kimberly L. Hough

Hundreds of school boards will lead their communities in superintendent searches this year. As they seek the right leaders for their school communities, most will assess candidates’ experience, communication skills, financial acumen, and knowledge of instruction. They will look for command presence, charisma, and political prowess. However, one important quality often is left off the list of qualifications: leadership humility.

Humility is a topic we used to associate only with religious leaders, but since the publication of Jim Collins’ business best-seller Good to Great in 2001, it has been gaining attention as an effective leadership behavior for achieving organizational goals and creating environments where learning can take place and solutions can be explored with candor. While superintendent humility might not be a popular topic in the boardroom yet, it has strong implications for the classroom. A statewide research study I performed showed that leadership humility is linked to higher math and reading scores.

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