School Leadership Team Bonding

By Doug Eadie

A school board president and superintendent do not automatically become a cohesive leadership team, even if they are both passionately committed to their district’s educational vision and mission and dedicated to long-term success. After all, this is an arranged marriage that has little to do with either party’s preferences. It’s a pairing that’s more a matter of circumstance than conscious matchmaking.

It’s rare that a board president plays a leading role in choosing the superintendent --  whose tenure may encompass many board presidents --  with whom he or she is paired. And a superintendent almost never gets to influence the choice of a particular board president. Add to this the strong will and ego needs of those involved, and tension and occasional clashes seem as likely to characterize the relationship as harmonious teamwork.

Despite the daunting odds, making the effort to build a cohesive team partnership is well worth the time and effort, both in terms of serving the interest of higher-impact governing and in helping each person achieve important professional goals.

This column focuses on a particular piece of this puzzle: what the board president can reasonably expect the superintendent to do to ensure that the working relationship is healthy and productive.

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