Organizational leadership, including school leadership, is a popular topic, for good reason. Indeed, strong leadership is a critical element to the success of any organization or program. In our work, collaboration with the school principal is a critical part of the All-In partnership, and our goals are shared in a highly interconnected way. Based on my experience working in schools for many years, with direction and guidance from dozens of principals, it is clear that there are a lot of different personality types and professional styles, but a few common themes when it comes to the highly effective leaders. Top of mind... a clear vision with the perspective to balance both short term needs and long term goals, strong communication and relationship building skills and true confidence over arrogance, which is significantly supported by having a humble approach to the work, in my opinion.
This article focuses on the value of humility in the role of a leader and profiles a middle school principal and her experience using this value to create change for students and the school culture. The cornerstone of her approach to school transformation was to seek support and teamwork from the school staff and together focus on building relations with the students. She and her staff went on to create a character education program that fundamentally changed the culture of the school and lead to positive outcomes for students and their learning opportunities.
The author outlines two guidelines to consider related to cultivating humble leadership:
“ Ask yourself: Is it all about the students or all about the school? Humility is a core component of servant leadership—a type of leadership whose hallmark is the growth and development of followers rather than organizational success, and, hence, a perfect model for schools that are in the business of growing human beings.”
“ Balance humility with self-confidence… being able to listen to feedback, elicit the opinions of others, and express appreciation—key factors of humility—are not enough for leaders who aspire to lead others with humility. They also need to appear confident in their leadership. While this might sound contradictory, it’s really not: research suggests that humility and confidence need to go hand in hand.”
Lilly Green, Director of School Partnerships