Managing Schools: Leaders need to think and act as Corporate CEOs


By Ms. Vibha Khosla
Principal – Shri Ram Global School

Leadership and management can transform a struggling school into a top-notch institution of learning. But this common way to think about leadership and management may be detrimental sometimes. Very often, the burden of saving a school that isn’t doing well is placed on the principal, disseminating a view that places successful school leaders as heroic and lesser successful ones as absolute failures.

Often, the practice of management and leading are not paid as much heed as leadership styles. Dwelling on formal schools, one often overlooks the informal relationships which are in fact fundamental to leadership. The importance of management is often paid attention to inadequately, owing to an excessive fixation on leadership.

Today as the education for students has moved on from being teacher-centric to being child-centric to learning-centric so does the demand of the school leader needs to be more like a CEO of a multinational company. But how can we compare a multinational with a school or a Principal with a CEO? Let’s be the harbingers of change and introspect the qualities of a CEO
The CEOs are driven by Courage, Passion & Intensity: An excellent CEO is drawn to change and effective action like a moth to a flame just like the Best-in-class leaders rely on their intuition, looking toward the future while setting goals ambitiously. CEOs tend to take initiative, even when opportunities present themselves at a high-level risk. They are quick to capitalize on opportunities, which come from a passion for growth, thus making them charismatic and persuasive.

They are endowed with Resilience & Drive: Leaders know that taking risks and making large-scale changes can lead to exponential growth or can fail dramatically. Great CEOs harbor the resilience to bounce back from adversities and push forward to meet their goals. A great CEO is open to learning from their mistakes and will work to turn unanticipated situations into positive results just like a good School Principal would do.

High Emotional Intelligence drives the CEOs of any successful corporations to the pivot of success which is attributed to collaboration. Great leaders believe in the creation and maintenance of strong networks, through mutually beneficial relationships. They may not always be extroverted, but house the ability to understand other people’s emotions with ease, are warm and easy to approach. Their trustworthiness and uplifting nature make them akin to how ideal Principals are. Humility makes CEOs convey a personable demeanor, and one way to achieve this is by remaining humble and modest about their qualifications. Their work speaks for itself, but they are mindful of not letting their confidence be mistaken for pretension or arrogance. Such individuals hence, are not self-involved and work relentlessly to develop the leaders of tomorrow. A good Principal too aims to transform all the teachers into potential leaders.

Excellent Communication Skills sprinkles the magical dust to climb the top. CEOs although are the decision-makers in an organization, yet best-in-practice CEOs are aware of how employees are incredibly productive when they feel valued and integral to the success of the organization. Active engagement with one’s team thus yields better results for the organization. The best leaders, in fact, are very good listeners so mentoring and providing support to the team is quintessential for the success of any endeavor. Practicing empathy and promoting cross-function, internal collaboration too is paramount. All the above qualities have been imbibed by the Principals leading the top-notch institutions. So, can’t we say that a good Principal can be just like a CEO?


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