Bain and Co want top to bottom changes on how schools are run

Proposing a New Leadership Development Strategy


A new report from Bain and Co finds that an essential ingredient behind each of the school success stories (in the US, but with wider relevance) it examined is, unsurprisingly, extraordinary leadership. It states ‘We have the opportunity to replicate these results at greater scale by more systematically developing talented educators into a deep bench of prospective leaders with the experience and ability to build an extraordinary school. ‘Yet’, says the report, ‘we have far too few transformational school leaders today to replicate the results that are possible at a greater scale. The reason: Most school systems fail to methodically develop talented educators into a deep bench of prospective leaders with the experience and ability to build an extraordinary school.’  It continues ‘School systems can do that by taking the steps necessary to identify, encourage and develop these leaders from within their own buildings (see “Launching a New Leadership Development Strategy,” below). Our research with districts and CMOs working on this issue highlights both the challenge and the opportunity. Many of these school systems are making important progress on the long journey to fundamentally rethink leadership development. They are dramatically raising standards, encouraging more-talented educators to consider the path to leadership, creating more meaningful stepping-stone roles, and devising systems to both evaluate and manage those moving through the pipeline.

‘Our recommendations are not easy to implement. They require a system-wide focus on overcoming the often contentious challenges of restructuring roles, raising standards and creating consensus around top-to-bottom changes in how our schools are managed and run. The payoff is an organic, home-grown solution to the leadership deficit that lies at the heart of our struggle to educate our children and prepare them for a better future. That is a goal all can rally around, but success will require a shared commitment to increase the number of exceptional schools by putting in place the transformational school leaders who can create them.

Implementing a new leadership development strategy is a daunting prospect. But a number of school systems in our research are making significant progress and their approaches share some important characteristics. They start with a multiyear, system-wide commitment to develop leaders over time instead of searching for them as vacancies arise. They include the active participation of all constituencies within the system. They tie an ambitious vision for transforming school performance to a concrete set of leadership standards and criteria. They create a robust set of stepping-stone roles and a clear set of pathways that connect them.’

Here is what a successful, phased effort might look like:

Phase 1: Define leadership criteria

Perform an audit of current leadership roles and programs to assess effectiveness, coherence and gaps

Convene a cross section of system leaders to define a core set of desired leadership skills for principals, APs and teacher leaders

Engage other stakeholders throughout the system to review this draft and offer input. Build consensus around a final set of standards and competencies

Redefine principal, AP and teacher leader job descriptions to reflect a high and consistent set of expectations

Phase 2: Develop leadership pathways

Design and pilot principal, AP and teacher leader evaluation systems aligned to these standards and competencies

Assess current and prospective leadership talent across the system. Systematically identify and cultivate the highest-potential emerging leaders

Create pilot teacher leader and AP pathway programs with formal training and enhanced mentorship around specific leadership roles and responsibilities

Promote the importance and attractiveness of leadership roles and the available pathways to move into them

Phase 3: Organize around leadership development

Reduce principal-supervisor spans of control and expand their role in managing the development of leadership talent across the system

Ensure all schools have a core set of robust teacher leader stepping-stone roles with sufficient time available to focus on them

Fully implement new principal and AP evaluations. Replace principals and APs who don’t meet the new standards

Apply new leadership standards to filling open principal, AP and stepping-stone teacher leader positions. Fully leverage past-performance data in filling key roles

Rigorously assess the strength of the pipeline and the processes that support it. Make continuous improvement a core tenet of the transformation




Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s