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Leadership Styles in Education

March 26, 2020

A teacher focuses on work with a student while at a desk.

Leaders take charge of a situation to bring it to a swift conclusion. However, not all leaders approach a problem the same way. Leadership styles are as unique as the individuals displaying them. Educators are an especially diverse crowd. They have the task of disseminating knowledge and instructing on various topics. How they do so changes from teacher to teacher.

The education field has many leadership examples. A visionary leader, for example, may seek to start a group at work for colleagues to deal with anxieties or issues that students may encounter outside of school. The aim would be to help students to perform better while in school. Visionary leadership demonstrates how a leader in the education system can impact peers and provide a positive environment for students.

Becoming a school leader is more than a matter of vocation; it’s a calling, and it can be the result of hard work and advanced education. Programs like the an online Master of Education in Educational Leadership are designed to help accomplished educators take their leadership skills to the next level and make a stronger impact on their students.

Why Leadership Is Essential to Education

Educational leaders take responsibility for their peers and those working under them. They usually rise in a school’s hierarchy to senior administrative positions. Due to the way that educational districts design school hierarchies, leaders are responsible for the administration of an entire school or even an entire educational district. In either position, the leadership type the professional displays will differ based on the situation and the type of leader they are. Some job functions that fall under educational leadership include:

  • Principal. Principals have the responsibility of managing entire schools. Their main role is to provide strategic direction in the school system. Their duties and responsibilities include both general administrative tasks, from managing the budget to improving the school infrastructure, and educational tasks that aim to create a competitive school culture that both teachers and students can observe.
  • Vice principal. The second in command in a school, the vice principal shares responsibilities with the principal and performs that role in an acting capacity if the principal is unable to.
  • Superintendent. District superintendents have the task of ensuring the overall success of educational areas under their purview. Their metrics may vary, but many superintendents focus on national test scores as a gauge for their districts’ success.
  • Assistant superintendent. Assistant superintendents help superintendents to perform their duties. They’re also instrumental in dealing with a school district’s specific needs, such as transportation or a curriculum.

All of these different professionals discover problems that may exist in the education system and seek to solve them. Their responsibilities lie with the implementation of an equitable learning environment, as well as shaping educational reform. Despite the similarity in their goals, however, their leadership styles in education may be quite different.

Different Leadership Styles in Education

Leaders in the education field have as their main mission the improvement of the education system. To do this, they critically examine issues and propose solutions that can bring about change. However, while they may be the administrators, the task for implementing those changes falls to the teachers that work alongside them. Different leadership styles in education are essential in inspiring teachers to fulfill their mandate to improve the education system as a whole. The leadership styles a professional may use will vary distinctly.

Constructivist Leadership

Charismatic, inspiring leaders encapsulate the hallmarks of transformational leadership. Their leadership type plays upon the emotions of the follower. These leaders don’t always connect with the audience, but when they do, they can motivate people like no other leadership style can. Transformational leadership’s downside is that the leader needs to embrace the persona constantly.

For administrators in the education system, transformational leadership can create change quickly in the culture and operation of a school or district. Transformational leaders not only inspire others to help them to institute change but also encourage job satisfaction among the staff they lead.

Distributed Leadership

Distributed leaders aren’t concerned as much with leading and inspiring others as with the completion of tasks. Leaders in school systems have to handle increasingly complex tasks. With all the pressure put on them, they must learn to delegate actions to those who are best suited to complete them. The distributed leader is a master strategist, assigning tasks that followers are comfortable doing and using their inherent skills efficiently.

A demonstration of this leadership type is a vice principal who needs to perform a certain task. The vice principal goes through the staff roster and selects a small group of individuals who can bring their skills to bear on the project. The vice principal then assigns tasks to each individual, with deadline dates, and moves on to another item of importance. The job gets done as all the members work together to accomplish it.

Invitational Leadership

Invitational leaders don’t see themselves as authoritarian. Instead, they focus on the connectedness of their staffs. These leaders aim to promote positivity in the workplace. Invitational leaders create accepting environments that are conducive to learning. Their style operates on the knowledge that all stakeholders of the school or district should have a say in what happens. The changes they bring about are gradual but encompass the will of those who would be affected, making even drastic changes acceptable to the majority.

Strategic Leadership

Strategic leadership looks at the big picture. While many of the other leadership types deal with the administration of everyday needs, strategic leaders look at what the future holds for the school or district. The positive side of this leadership is that it allows for long-term planning and execution. However, strategic leaders may find themselves having problems with daily administration.

Each of the previously mentioned leadership styles has the same goal in mind: creating an environment that’s conducive to students’ needs. While their methods may be different, the mission remains the same.

How to Become an Educational Leader

Professionals who want to see the education system improve are the ideal candidates for becoming educational leaders. The positions can be well paid, with the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reporting that postsecondary education administrators earned a median annual salary of $94,340 in 2018, and elementary and secondary school education administrators earned a median annual salary of $94,390 in 2017. The BLS projects the job growth rate for postsecondary administrators to be faster than average, at 7%, between 2018 and 2028.

The road to being a professional in this field starts with finishing an undergraduate degree and getting some teaching experience. After that, the professional should complete a master’s degree.

The LSU online Master of Education – Educational Leadership

Whether you're an educational administrator or a teacher who wants to rise to a leadership position in education, the LSU online Master of Education – Educational Leadership program will prepare you to assume an advanced managerial and administrative position in the education sector.

The program’s coursework explores the organizational side of education, addressing concepts such as school budgeting, student performance assessment, evaluating teaching and support staff, as well as curriculum development. It provides students with the unique opportunity to network with leading professionals in the field and learn from the best educators at Louisiana’s only university honoured in the “very high research activity” category by the Carnegie Foundation.

The program’s core courses build on the foundational topics of education by introducing advanced techniques and concepts such as Ethics and Educational Leadership, or school improvement and action research. On the practical side, students can also learn best practices in school administration.

Learn More About an Online Master of Education in Educational Leadership

As an educator today, you must be equipped to navigate political and bureaucratic hurdles and overcome difficulties such as decreased resources and personnel. In order to achieve this aim, you have to build upon your leadership skills and improve your ability to navigate school or state-level challenges and direct organizational change. A master’s in educational leadership will help you develop the skills to do just that.

Are you ready to explore your future in educational leadership? Check out the LSU Online Master of Education in Educational Leadership and start down the path of advancing your career today.

Recommended Readings:

What Can I Do With a Master’s in Educational Leadership

Considering an Online MBA? Explore the Possibilities

Make the Most of Educational Leadership Conferences

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