I recently had occasion to answer this question in writing:
What characteristics define an excellent administrator?
Bearing in mind I had to keep my answer concise, here’s what I came up with:
When I reflect upon the excellent administrators with whom I’ve worked, they have all possessed a few common core characteristics:
Students come first: When actions needed to be taken or decisions made, the best administrators keep the impact on the students at the forefront of the decision-making process, and they do what is right, not necessarily what is convenient. They conduct themselves in ways that demonstrate respect for students as people and members of the school community – even in disciplinary contexts – and in doing so, earn the respect of their students.
Ask and listen: The better administrators with whom I have worked spent more time asking questions and sincerely listening to responses in order to guide their leadership.
Distribute leadership: The best administrators recognize the strengths of their individual teachers and draw upon them to strengthen the school as a whole. They recognize, praise, and nurture the talents in their buildings and encourage collaboration and continuing learning among their staff.
Obviously there’s much more to be said, and I’d like to see if we can crowdsource this. Off the top of your head, what can you say about the excellent administrators with whom you’ve worked? What did they have in common?
Extra credit for tying it to some practice we non-administrative types can or should engage in.