Leaders in Transitional Roles

The school in transition is one of the most challenging places for an administrator to find themselves.

If you are stepping into a leadership role in a school or program that is transitional in nature, might I suggest four ideas that will help to direct you in this process.

Have a plan.  Have a clear idea of where your school is and where you are headed when you step into the position.  Both may change once your feet hit the ground or, as the military says, no plan survives first contact.  But you must have a plan.  Set clear goals as part of your plan both for yourself and with the staff you will be working with so everyone knows where you are going and can make decisions about how to best support the plan.

Build relationships.  Spend time building positive relationships with your staff.  There is nothing more powerful than spending time with people.  The staff that see you both as a leader and as a person will value you and be more likely to support you in the long-term.

Trust your key staff.  The leaders in key positions were hired because they are good at what they do.  Trust in their abilities to complete tasks and give them responsibilities that are appropriate for the position.  If you show that you trust key leaders working under you with important decisions, and support them, the staff will increase the level of trust in all the leadership team.

One final point.  Respect the nature of transition.  Not everyone agrees with the new direction nor does they want to support it.   In this case, one of two things will happen. They will choose to leave the school and seek employment elsewhere, and should be celebrated and supported for the decision and their contribution over time.  Alternately, they may choose to remain and not support the new direction.  In this case, these staff members must be spoken too and clearly told the direction of the organization.  If they choose not to support the new direction of the school, they will be encouraged to find employment elsewhere.  This is the most difficult task of any administrator, and especially difficult for those new to the role.

This is no means a conclusive list, rather a few thoughts from observations of good leaders in transition over the years.  Transition is hard in the best of situations.  Best of luck to those working in these roles.

Please feel free to add your thoughts in the comment section.

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