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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

CHOOLS today continue to evolve into increasingly complex organizations, as the diversity of students continues to expand. In tandem with these developments is the expectation for all students to meet increasingly higher learning standardsthus the vision of maximum educational success for all students. Escalating standards and changing demographics place new demands on educational leaders. Knowledge in the traditional areas of school finance, law. personnel, curriculum, instruction, and state mandates was once the focus for preparing school administrators. Today, federal and state educational reforms coupled with in-

creased accountability create an urgent need for development of leadership skills to promote student achievement as measured by sound academic assessments. Moreover, today's educational leaders must recognize and assume shared responsibility not only for the intellectual and educational development of students, but also for their personal, social, emotional, and physical development. These changes in diversity, standards, and demands in school communities place a premium on school leaders able to create a vision of success for all students, and use their skills in communication, collaboration, and building 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 (SeptemberOctober 2009), 26-29. Published by the Illinois Association of School Boards, Springfield, IL.

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schools to ensure that the vision of educational excellence becomes a reality.


Educational Visionaries

Effective leadership plays a vital role in setting the direction for successful schools. This is true for all schools, whether the leader is a school board member, superintendent, principal, or teacher. More than ever, educational visionaries and authentic leaders are needed. It has generally been accepted that leaders are born, not made. Yet, contrary to this belief, research shows that leaders are made, not born. Leaders are those who have the desire and willpower to be effective, and learn what true leadership is, and is not. Schools have traditionally been full of quality managers but desperately short of leaders. "Leadership" and "management" are terms often used interchangeably in meaning and application. However, this is simply not the case. By definition and in practice, leadership and management are different functions requiring different skill sets. In short, managers have subordinates, while leaders have followers. Examine the difference in descriptors between management and leadership: Managers administer. They ask how and when, focus on the system, maintain, rely on control, have a short-term perspective.

accept the status-quo, imitate, and copy, Leaders innovate. They ask what and why, focus on people, develop, inspire trust, have long-term perspective, challenge the status quo, originate, and show originality. In their 2007 book The Leadership Challenge, James M. Kouzes

and Barry Z. Posner, both from Santa Clara University, provide a blueprint for real deveiopment of leaders, and in this case, school leaders. Their research found four leadership characteristics that annually come to the top in 60% of all leadership surveys: HonestTruthful, ethical, principled Forward-lookingVision, goal, imagination InspiringEnthusiasm, excitement, passion, optimistic CompetentTrack record, relevant experience, sound judgment These components matter greatly, as exemplary leaders must be credible in their actions and clear about their beliefs. Their actions must match their words. People trust leaders when their actions match their words. People follow leaders when they trust them. To conduct the research, Kouzes and Posner collected thousands of stories of exceptional leadership from leaders in many different areeis. Despite differences in leaders' personal-best stories, their experi-

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Discerning the Differences Between Managers, Leaders

enees revealed similar patterns of behavior. The study found that when leaders are at their personal best, they: Model the wayLeaders establish principles concerning the way people should be treated and the way goals should be pursued. They create standards of excellence and then set an example for others to follow. Because the prospect of complex change can overwhelm people and stifle action, they set interim goals so that people can achieve small wins as they work toward larger objectives. They unravel bureaucracy when it impedes action; they put up signposts when people are unsure of where to go or how to get there; and they create opportunities for victory. Inspire a shared visionLeaders passionately believe that they can make a difference. They envision the future, creating an ideal and unique image of what the organization can become. Through their magnetism and quiet persuasion, leaders enlist others in their dreams. They breathe life into their visions and get people to see exciting possibilities for the future. Challenge the processLeaders search for opportunities to change the status quo. They look for innovative ways to improve the organization. In doing so, they experiment and take risks. And because leaders know that risk taking involves mistakes and failures, they accept the inevitable

disappointments as learning opportunities. Enable others to actLeaders foster collaboration and build spirited teams. They actively involve others. Leaders understand that mutual respect is what sustains extraordinary efforts; they strive to create an atmosphere of trust and human dignity. They strengthen others, making each person feel capable and powerful. Encourage the heartAccomplishing extraordinary things in organizations is hard work. To keep hope and determination alive, leaders recognize contributions that individuals make. In every winning team, the members need to share in the rewards of their efforts, so leaders celebrate accomplishments. They make people feel like heroes. Kouzes and Posner also found that leadership can be learned. It is a skill mastered from applying the lessons learned from the research. It is a myth that only a lucky few can be true leaders. First though, you must believe that leadership applies to you, and that leadership development is self-development. Integrity and humility must be at the top of the list. No one can do the total job alone. Leaders are human and need help. Constituents look for leaders who demonstrate an enthusiastic and genuine belief in the capacity of others to help do the job. A true

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leader strengthens people's will to achieve and supplies the means to make achievement possible. They also have a vision and express optimism and hope for the future. An authentic and exceptional leader must love leading and care about the people they work with and the organization in which they work. Being Effective Leaders Effective leadership is at the core of every successful organization. Effective leaders collaboratively create a vision and establish a climate for people in the organization to reach the highest level of achievement. They communicate the vision and work with others to achieve the vision. They mobilize resources and promote collaborative activities among people in the organization to achieve the agreed upon goals. Effective leaders recognize their own strengths. In doing so, they also recognize their weaknesses and attract competent people thereby enhancing the organization in its quest for achieving the goals, whatever they are. Leaders cultivate and focus on strengths. They eliminate many organizational weaknesses and alleviate those they cannot eliminate. They embrace change as an opportunity for growth rather than as an obstacle to be overcome. They lead their organization through the uncertainty of change, whatever

it is and whenever it is needed. Effective leaders seek advice and guidance from the knowledge and experiences of others while they freely offer their expertise and insight to others. The task for educational leaders is to educate all students, each to the maximum of their individual ability, to reach for and achieve ever higher learning standards and become lifelong learners. Research also shows that the leadership skills needed today are different from those of the past. Today's school leaders are those who create a vision of success for all students, value diversity, and provide effective instructional leadership for high student achievement. They are key to educational success because it is their responsibility to set the tone. Authentic leaders will and must definethe path for educational and personal success for all students, now and in the future.

"Please move away from the smoke alarm. Dad,"

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