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Quality Leadership in Schools -by Ronald Fitzgerald, D.Ed
Summary : Quality is continuous improvement. The Plan -> Do -> Check -> Act cycle is a fundamental component of pursuing quality in any organization.
Quality is continuous improvement. The Plan -> Do -> Check -> Act cycle is a fundamental component of pursuing quality in any organization. It can be useful for a building principal or any educational manager to evaluate his or her style of leadership in comparisons to the actions that best "fit" this cycle. Obviously leading in a way that supports the cycle is important to promoting quality. Here we look at ten leadership behaviors that best support the cycle for continuous improvement.
Important PLANNING behaviors. There are five leadership behaviors that promote effective planning:
1. Ensure a clear mission and goals. Leaders who insist on establishing and following a clear mission and goals statement are ensuring direction rather than allowing chaos. The "and" is underlined because follow-up must be consistent or the mission/goal statements become meaningless.
2. Listen to others. Teachers, students, parents, community and business leaders can offer lots of important information for every phase of the quality cycle. Their wisdom, insights, aspirations, and requests can improve planning. Administrators who are "too busy" to listen to others are poorly informed and therefore less effective than they could be as leaders.
3. Involve others in planning. Listening to others will help to define good planning tasks. Then formally involving others in the planning has the potential for promoting broader support for whatever plan is constructed. This involvement is the start of the power of teaming.
4. Constantly expand personal knowledge. Study, attend conferences, and stay personally involved in local in-service learning programs. Then, you bring more expertise to the planning table. Also, you model a behavior for everyone else - - planning on the basis of gaining information for the best decision 'making.
5. Ensure coordination and monitoring activities. Insisting that such activities are part of any project plan should be a persistent leadership habit. This is a second component of promoting the teaming useful to organizational productivity.
Important DOING behaviors. There are two leadership behaviors that are especially important in the doing phase of the quality cycle:
6. Expect teaming. One person cannot usually implement a comprehensive school plan. Administrator/leaders must expect teamwork on important tasks. This means operating an evaluation system in which dedication to teaming is a basic standard.
7. Support others. Leadership for quality means doing everything possible to help other team members succeed. For example, the first focus of an evaluation system should be to help an evaluatee to succeed.
Important CHECKING behaviors. Two behaviors are critical to leadership on the checking component of the quality cycle:
8. Monitor with measurement. Never wait until the end of a process to discover whether there is a problem impeding progress toward a desired final result. Use listening, observing, measurements, and simple written and oral progress reports from project leaders and/or team members to stay informed.
9. Analyze data on progress. Once a leader has monitoring data, he or she analyzes the data to extract implications and questions. This is the equivalent of the classroom teacher using formative assessment prior to adjusting instruction to gain the best final learning results.
Important ACTING or adjusting behavior. Analyzing data (above) of course must be followed by acting on the analysis. So the final behavior is:
10. Promote and support changes in plans whenever analyzed data indicates that such adjustments might improve the achievement of desired results. For example, different processes or resources or training or scheduling might be needed. This brings leadership through the full cycle that promotes continuous or never-ending improvements.
Now, reflect on this simple listing of leadership behaviors that promote quality: The leader - - 1. Is mission or results oriented. 2. Listens (is sensitive) to others. 3. Involves others in planning. 4. Constantly expands personal knowledge. 5. Ensures coordination and monitoring. 6. Expects teaming. 7. Supports others. 8. Monitors with measurement. 9. Analyzes data on progress. 10. Promotes and supports changes in plans on the basis of analyzed data.
Do you believe that these are important behaviors for a principal? How about, for a superintendent or for a teacher or for any manager? If your answer is "no," try listing the opposites of the listed behaviors (Does not listen to others, etc.). Can you see why qualities that support the PDCA continuous improvement cycle are qualities that are important for all educators and all managers? Of course, all teachers are managers of learning!
This is one of many articles available on the resource site http://www.SuccessInTeaching.info created and maintained by Ronald Fitzgerald, D.Ed,
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