Performance-based leadership: knowing what to lead and how to lead for improved outcomes.

ARTICLE: Performance-based leadership: knowing what to lead and how to lead for improved outcomes.


Mr David Eddy, Educational Leadership Consultant, Auckland, Mr Steve Lemos, Principal, St Mary’s School, Georges Hall, Sydney and Mrs Mary L’Estrange, Primary Consultant, Catholic Education Office, Sydney.

Download your copy here: Eddy,Lemos,L'Estrange-Performance-based Leadership AEL 2014

David introduces why he wrote the article and how you could use it:

You need to know what you’re doing

Writing a journal article is a labour of love and can take several weeks until you’re happy with it, as this one did! As lead writer of this article, I was keen to identify and unravel the particular things a principal does to successfully respond to a major student achievement problem. What I unravel in this principal’s (Steve) story is that he thought, talked and acted in ways absolutely consistent with the findings of recent world class research on educational leadership. To make big upward shifts in student learning, leaders need specific knowledge about what works, why it works, and how it works. A good example of this research-practice relationship importance is well described, for example, in Student-Centered Leadership.

Your intentions need to pass the efficiency and effectiveness test

Otherwise, there’s a high risk of the blind leading the blind, precious time being lost, well intentioned experiments that don’t deliver, motivation and morale plummeting. Time and time again I see this happening in schools. Lots of hard work, long hours, exhausted leaders and teachers, high stress but little or no improvement! I wrote this article to show this doesn’t need to and shouldn’t happen. It is possible to lead terrific improvements in student learning when you do the right things, in the right ways. This requires letting go of, or at least putting under scrutiny, pet theories and personal preferences. It means getting on board with quality assured research findings about the most efficient and effective things leaders’ can do to get major (not minor) improvements within a year or two. Don’t do things unless they pass the efficiency and effectiveness test. If they pass, you’ll build resilience at multiple levels to help bring about and sustain improvement.

You’re invited to use the article to help grow leadership capacity in your school

Here’s 5 suggestions for you and other leaders to use and discuss:

1. What are the specific things the principal and other leaders in the school did to bring about a significant improvement to student learning? Which of these things does leadership in your school currently do to a high standard? Which of these things does leadership in your school currently not do to a high standard, or not at all? What could you do?

2. How open are leaders in your school currently to having their ideas for improvement scrutinised and critiqued by others? If not, why not? What could you do?

3. To what extent is your school’s parent/caregiver community genuinely engaged in the educational work of the school? What could you do?

4. Do you track the progress of improvement initiatives in planned and evidence-informed ways? Do you regularly communicate progress about improvement initiatives to your staff and community? What could you do?

5. To what extent is the research on the characteristics of effective instructional leadership used in leadership learning opportunities in the school? What could you do?

This article is reproduced by permission of the Australian Council for Educational Leaders (ACEL). Click here for submission or subscription enquiries.

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