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Discerning

the Differences
Between Managers
and Leaders
By J. Gregory Reynolds and Walter H. Warfield
From The Illinois School Board Journal

S
CHOOLS today continue to creased accountability create an
evolve into increasingly com- urgent need for development of
plex organizations, as the di- leadership skills to promote stu-
versity of students continues to dent achievement as measured by
expand. In tandem with these de- sound academic assessments.
velopments is the expectation for Moreover, today's educational
all students to meet increasingly leaders must recognize and as-
higher learning standards—thus sume shared responsibility not
the vision of maximum education- only for the intellectual and edu-
al success for all students. cational development of students,
Escalating standards and chang- but also for their personal, social,
ing demographics place new de- emotional, and physical develop-
mands on educational leaders. ment. These changes in diversity,
Knowledge in the traditional areas standards, and demands in school
of school finance, law. personnel, communities place a premium on
curriculum, instruction, and state school leaders able to create a
mandates was once the focus for vision of success for all students,
preparing school administrators. and use their skills in communica-
Today, federal and state educa- tion, collaboration, and building
tional reforms coupled with in- learning communities within the

J. Gregory Reynolds is a visiting assistant professor and Walter H. Warfield


is a scholar in residence at ttie University of Illinois at Springfield. Condensed,
with permission, from The Illinois School Board Journal, 77 (September-
October 2009), 26-29. Published by the Illinois Association of School Boards,
Springfield, IL.

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THE EDUCATION DIGEST

schools to ensure that the vision accept the status-quo, imitate,


of educational excellence becomes and copy,
a reality. • Leaders innovate. They ask
what and why, focus on people, de-
Educational Visionaries velop, inspire trust, have long-term
Effective leadership plays a vital perspective, challenge the status
role in setting the direction for suc- quo, originate, and show original-
cessful schools. This is true for all ity.
schools, whether the leader is a In their 2007 book The Leader-
school board member, superinten- ship Challenge, James M. Kouzes
dent, principal, or teacher. More and Barry Z. Posner, both from
than ever, educational visionaries Santa Clara University, provide a
and authentic leaders are needed. blueprint for real deveiopment of
It has generally been accepted that leaders, and in this case, school
leaders are born, not made. Yet, leaders. Their research found four
contrary to this belief, research leadership characteristics that an-
shows that leaders are made, nually come to the top in 60% of all
not born. Leaders are those who leadership surveys:
have the desire and willpower to • Honest—Truthful, ethical,
be effective, and learn what true principled
leadership is, and is not. • Forward-looking—Vision,
Schools have traditionally been goal, imagination
full of quality managers but des- • Inspiring—Enthusiasm, ex-
perately short of leaders. "Lead- citement, passion, optimistic
ership" and "management" are • Competent—Track record,
terms often used interchangeably relevant experience, sound judg-
in meaning and application. How- ment
ever, this is simply not the case. By These components matter great-
definition and in practice, leader- ly, as exemplary leaders must be
ship and management are differ- credible in their actions and clear
ent functions requiring different about their beliefs. Their actions
skill sets. In short, managers have must match their words. People
subordinates, while leaders have trust leaders when their actions
followers. match their words. People follow
Examine the difference in de- leaders when they trust them.
scriptors between management To conduct the research, Kouz-
and leadership: es and Posner collected thousands
• Managers administer. They of stories of exceptional leadership
ask how and when, focus on the from leaders in many different ar-
system, maintain, rely on control, eeis. Despite differences in leaders'
have a short-term perspective. personal-best stories, their experi-

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Discerning the Differences Between Managers, Leaders

enees revealed similar patterns disappointments as learning op-


of behavior. The study found that portunities.
when leaders are at their personal • Enable others to act—Leaders
best, they: foster collaboration and build spir-
• Model the way—Leaders estab- ited teams. They actively involve
lish principles concerning the way others. Leaders understand that
people should be treated and the mutual respect is what sustains ex-
way goals should be pursued. They traordinary efforts; they strive to
create standards of excellence and create an atmosphere of trust and
then set an example for others to human dignity. They strengthen
follow. Because the prospect of others, making each person feel
complex change can overwhelm capable and powerful.
people and stifle action, they set • Encourage the heart—Ac-
interim goals so that people can complishing extraordinary things
achieve small wins as they work in organizations is hard work. To
toward larger objectives. They un- keep hope and determination alive,
ravel bureaucracy when it impedes leaders recognize contributions
action; they put up signposts when that individuals make. In every
people are unsure of where to go or winning team, the members need
how to get there; and they create to share in the rewards of their
opportunities for victory. efforts, so leaders celebrate ac-
• Inspire a shared vision—Lead- complishments. They make people
ers passionately believe that they feel like heroes.
can make a difference. They envi- Kouzes and Posner also found
sion the future, creating an ideal that leadership can be learned. It is
and unique image of what the or- a skill mastered from applying the
ganization can become. Through lessons learned from the research.
their magnetism and quiet persua- It is a myth that only a lucky few
sion, leaders enlist others in their can be true leaders.
dreams. They breathe life into their First though, you must believe
visions and get people to see excit- that leadership applies to you,
ing possibilities for the future. and that leadership development
• Challenge the process—Lead- is self-development. Integrity and
ers search for opportunities to humility must be at the top of the
change the status quo. They look list. No one can do the total job
for innovative ways to improve alone. Leaders are human and
the organization. In doing so, they need help.
experiment and take risks. And Constituents look for leaders
because leaders know that risk who demonstrate an enthusiastic
taking involves mistakes and fail- and genuine belief in the capacity
ures, they accept the inevitable of others to help do the job. A true

i March 2010 63
THE EDUCATION DIGEST

leader strengthens people's will to it is and whenever it is needed.


achieve and supplies the means to Effective leaders seek advice
make achievement possible. They and guidance from the knowledge
also have a vision and express op- and experiences of others while
timism and hope for the future. they freely offer their expertise and
An authentic and exceptional insight to others.
leader must love leading and care The task for educational leaders
about the people they work with is to educate all students, each to
and the organization in which the maximum of their individual
they work. ability, to reach for and achieve
ever higher learning standards and
Being Effective Leaders become lifelong learners.
Effective leadership is at the Research also shows that the
core of every successful organiza- leadership skills needed today are
tion. Effective leaders collabora- different from those of the past.
tively create a vision and establish Today's school leaders are those
a climate for people in the organi- who create a vision of success
zation to reach the highest level of for all students, value diversity,
achievement. They communicate and provide effective instruction-
the vision and work with others to al leadership for high student
achieve the vision. They mobilize achievement. They are key to
resources and promote collabora- educational success because it is
tive activities among people in the their responsibility to set the tone.
organization to achieve the agreed Authentic leaders will and must
upon goals. definethe path for educational and
Effective leaders recognize their personal success for all students,
own strengths. In doing so, they now and in the future. •
also recognize their weaknesses
and attract competent people
thereby enhancing the organiza-
tion in its quest for achieving the
goals, whatever they are. Leaders
cultivate and focus on strengths.
They eliminate many organiza-
tional weaknesses and alleviate
those they cannot eliminate. They
embrace change as an opportu-
nity for growth rather than as an
obstacle to be overcome. They
lead their organization through the "Please move away from
uncertainty of change, whatever the smoke alarm. Dad,"

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