Growing Leaders

By Susan S. McClelland and Doug McQueen

When you look at the role of leadership in schools, two significant patterns emerge. High-performing schools have effective leaders, while schools that are underperforming typically have weak or ineffective leadership.

Such an obvious truth should drive the creation of aggressive leadership development programs in school districts. Too often, however, what passes for leadership development at the district level has been nothing more than an assortment of unaligned and ineffective activities.

These activities, which include participation in local university or community college classes as well as in district in-house seminars, often are driven more by an interest in providing credits for certification purposes than by a purposeful attempt at improving leadership effectiveness. On occasion, a better leader will emerge from this type of training, but it is likely more by chance than by design.

Yet many school districts persist in this haphazard approach to leadership development. Districts seem reluctant to focus a significant portion of their development activities on an effective leadership development program. This is puzzling, as there has never been a more critical need for school administrators.

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