Why is leadership important?
By Louise “Toni” Moore
Through my experience as a Catholic school teacher and principal, I have learned that, in order to inspire our teachers and students, we must begin by being positive, effective leaders ourselves.
Leadership in Catholic schools involves the integration of three primary leadership dimensions: spiritual, educational, and managerial. The integration of these dimensions creates the unique lens through which we can view professional development and preparation for Catholic school leaders.
This dimension of Catholic school leadership speaks to the heart of the principal’s ministry. The school community looks to its leader for both guidance and modeling of the Catholic faith in action. We can learn important lessons regarding spiritual formation from vowed religious communities. Yet the question remains: How can we help laypersons assume the role of spiritual leadership when they often lack formal and intentional spiritual formation experiences?
What is it that leaders must know to be able to provide the best educational experience for their students? The growing field of educational research provides many examples of educational best practices. Using technology effectively is key in meeting the educational needs of twenty-first-century learners. Critical thinking, collaboration, strong ethics, and solving real-world problems are but a few of the skills and attitudes that will be required of today’s students as they mature. It is our responsibility to prepare students for the highly diverse and rapidly changing world that they will inherit.
What do educators need to know about professional management practices, and why do they need to know it? Understanding more about effective management practices and having a deeper knowledge of the inner workings of the school as an organization lead to more skillful management of schools. Strategic planning, culture, performance management, organizational leadership, people development, and business structures are all elements that tie directly to better management. In turn, more effective management will lead to greater efficiency, a more mission-driven culture, and stronger outcomes for schools.
Understanding leadership — what can you do?
Start with yourself! Understanding leadership as both an inside-out and outside-in process leads to new approaches to leadership development. This holistic approach can be identified as “inside-out leadership,” which delves further into the individual and spiritual growth of leaders rather than merely training educators in academic subjects and management skills.
Professional training is still an important aspect of educational leadership, but it has a much greater impact when combined with spiritual development. Through inside-out leadership, we light the spark within our future leaders, who are our beacons of hope for Catholic schools.
In future issues, we will explore the three dimensions of Catholic school leadership — spiritual, educational, and organizational — in more depth. I look forward to our journey together. Have a great school year!
Louise “Toni” Moore, PhD, is an educational consultant at the University of Dayton.
This article was originally published in Today’s Catholic Teacher magazine, Fall 2017. All content copyright © Today’s Catholic Teacher/Bayard.com. All rights reserved. May be reproduced for classroom/parish use with full attribution as long as the content is unaltered from its original form. To request permission to reprint online, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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