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4 Top Essential Characteristics of a Successful Leader in Education

4 characteristics of a successful leader in education

Being an impressive leader in education will require you to reflect on your experience and make adjustments to fine-tune your educational leadership skills and expertise.

Would you like to have your name in bold print, be mentioned, and recognized? There’s nothing wrong with being in the limelight; you don’t have to be a follower.

I’ve met many people with high ambitions and dreams of leadership that never came to fruition.

Having a vision and a plan to ensure success is vital to reach your goals.

Why? Because they have not yet personally defined the leader in them or have never followed through with the necessary action. An excellent exercise to do is write your statement of educational leadership and administration. 

Discover the four “Ps” of educational leadership excellence: Perspective, Progress, Priority, and Planning.

1.  Perspective

First of all, if you want to be a successful leader, you must respect the Law of Perspective. In a world that seems to place a high value on independence, it takes perspective to realize that you need others to learn and grow. Ask anybody successful (and humble), and they will tell you that somebody came across their path who mentored or nurtured them, and this interaction helped them grow into the success they know today.

You don’t have it all; that’s why you need to continually draw from others’ energy, experience, and intellect. You will find that many of your problems can get solved much faster and more efficiently if you seek the perspective of those you trust. A good leader has an excellent network of mentors, advisors, colleagues, and friends who can share new perspectives, double-check big ideas, and make sure that the next steps are in the right direction.

2. Progress

Secondly, you must respect the Law of Progress. I can’t stress enough the importance of strategic, forward-looking thinking when you are in a leadership role. It is the leader’s job to stay on the cutting edge of what’s going on in their field. If you aren’t two steps ahead of everyone else, you might as well be behind.  There is not enough room for second best these days.


Somebody is always going to be a threat to what you’re doing and what you are trying to accomplish. There will always be another individual thinking, planning, and making way for something grander while you’re sleeping.  There will always be new, great ideas, and to set yourself apart as a leader in education, you must be sure that at least some of those new ideas are yours.

There is not enough room for being second best.

3.  Priority

Additionally, respect the Law of Priority. When you are responsible for a team, a department, or a campus, everyone will expect that you will treat their top priority as if it were your own. You’ll face conflicting pressures demanding your time, budget, attention, and mental energy, and you’ll often feel as though there is never enough of those things to satisfy all the people on your team.

The reality is that leaders, just like everybody else, have to take it one step at a time. Leaders need to have a balanced work agenda. This process requires getting priorities straight. It means deciding what needs to be done and in what order. Keep good records of your priorities, using an organizational strategy that works for you.

Aspiring educational leaders need core leadership skills to become effective and valuable school administrators and leaders.

Nothing happens. Of course, it would be fabulous if we could assume that everything would compile itself together in our favor, but that’s not how things happen in the real world. To accomplish things that you value, you’ll need to put in an effort; make compromises, and effectively prioritize your time, resources, and energy.

4.  Planning

The first rule of the Law of Planning is that you must control your successes. What does that mean? It means that it needs a lot of attention to specifics and details to stay in line with what you want. Respect this law of planning by setting goals for what needs to happen and taking action to achieve your goals.

Yes, you’re even going to have to make those dreaded deadlines. Keep your people, resources, and plans running by a high standard. Make your plans and keep them. Map out and write down your plans of action. They’re your blueprints for the house of success that you’re building.