Principals With Principles

Inspiration for Headmasters

Dedicated To Every Person Who Finds Him- or Herself In A Leadership Role At A School – Whether You Are The Headmaster Or Departmental Head.

One of the most respectable careers in most communities must be that of a school principal.  Not only do they have a huge responsibility on their shoulders, but they influence people from all walks of life as they are responsible for our children.  They hugely influence the atmosphere in their schools.  They are the leaders leading the teachers to either victory or failure.  In essence, they are the people responsible for teaching our next generation.

What does it mean to be a leader in our schools today?  How could our school principals make a difference in a negative environment of bad publicity and demotivated teachers?

John Maxwell’s definition of leadership is simple and applies to everyone, whether you are a leader in corporate or a principal responsible for many:

“Leadership Is Influence.  Nothing More.  Nothing Less.”

If you look at John’s quote above, how would you rate your leadership on a scale of 1-10?  Are you effective as the leader of your school or your team?  Do you have a lot of influence?  Is your staff positive and motivated as a result of your positive influence, or does the picture look like an undeveloped negative?  What kind of legacy will you leave behind as a result of your influence?

LEGACY is what you will be remembered for.  Your legacy is something you are working on daily!  It’s not something that happens when you die.  Every single decision and action that involves people, are building your legacy in their eyes.  I don’t know about you, but to me, leaving a great legacy, not only for the people around me, but also for my own children, is high on my priority list!

If we want to get better in any area of our lives, whether it is in our careers, in our marriages or as parents, we need to ask ourselves tough questions.

A few days ago a lady told me that one of my tough questions, almost 2 years ago, saved her marriage!  She said I first asked who would like their spouse to get better.  According to her, her husband needed to change immediately!  But then I asked the tough question:  “Are you a good enough spouse yourself?”  It was this very uncomfortable second question that changed everything for her and in her own words “saved her marriage”.

Challenging questions like these cause us to examine our motives and change ourselves for the better.  It helps us realize how badly we actually want better results and how our actions influence our results.  So the first tough question I would like to ask our school principals and other leaders are:

1.  Given the choice, would your staff unanimously vote for you as the principal?

Why is this question important?  Because people’s motivation drives everything and if they follow the leader because they have to, their motivation will be much different than when they follow because they want to.  So, do they enjoy being under your leadership?  I understand that being a leader doesn’t mean that you have to please everyone.  In fact, a leader can never please everyone.  But do your people feel that you care for them deeply?

“Many leaders love their position more than their people.” – John Maxwell

When that happens, the leaders lose the respect of their people.  The motivation is normally very low and staff only do what is expected of them.  When staff do something because they have to do it, their results (and ultimately the school’s results) will look much different from when they do it because they want to do it.  When leaders love their titles more than their people, they push their people away and limit their own success.

“Few leaders love their people more than their position.  When that happens, leaders strengthen their position.” – John Maxwell

Staff are committed and motivated to follow a leader who cares about them.  The atmosphere is affirming and not uncomfortable.  Headmasters who care about their staff, are admired and are able to get the best out of their staff.  Why?  Because all of us would rather give our best to someone who care about us, than give our best to someone who only cares about his or her own status in the community.  Don’t ever forget where you come from and what you learned from your leaders when you were at the bottom.

“If you are a good leader, no title is necessary.  If you are a bad one, no title will help.”

– John Maxwell –

2.  Are your teachers getting better?  Are they better off because of you?

Leaders know that people get better when they are growing.  They grow themselves and they have an unquenchable desire to see their people improve and grow!  We don’t improve with age – we’re not bottles of wine!  We only improve when we grow.  Nothing you learned yesterday will make you better tomorrow.  If you want your school to be better tomorrow, you and your teachers need to improve today.  Leaders enable their people to become all that they could be.  Most of the time, school principals started out as teachers themselves.  Don’t lose your passion to teach when you get to the top!  Teach your staff.  Develop them.  Grow them.  Hand over the baton.

“Will your followers be in a better position because of your leadership?  If the answer is NO, stop leading them!”

– John Maxwell –

3.  How motivated are your staff?

Various factors have contributed to an overwhelming negative feeling in our schools.  I receive messages and calls on a daily basis from across our country from teachers and principals who feel that they don’t want to continue on this road.  Dear principal, don’t stop.  Pick yourself up and then pick up your staff!  I know it is easier said than done and in some cases, I might not have survived in your environment myself!  My heart goes out to you and your school.  But please, just for this moment, remember why you started your journey as a teacher in the first place and if it was because you had a passion for people, rekindle that spark of passion again.  Look at the children and your staff as people who are in desperate need of the great leader that you are!  Nurture them.  Care for them.  Motivate them.  Lift them higher.

“Management is about persuading people to do things they do not want to do.  Leadership is about inspiring people to do things they never thought they could do.”

– Steve Jobs – 

If there is anything I can do to help you and your team succeed – whether you are a teacher or in the corporate environment – please do not hesitate to contact me.

Be sure to read my other letters to teachers, parents and leaders.

Teacher greetings!



3 thoughts on “Principals With Principles”

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