A Principal’s Reflections: The Ever-Evolving Leadership Lens

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Good leadership is, quite frankly, good leadership.  The tenants have remained the same for centuries.  What’s changed is the environment in which one leads, and this impacts the lens that is, or should be, used to drive change.  Employing well-known and research-based strategies within a current context is a hallmark of influential leaders.  I am of the opinion that being able to adapt in a way that results in improvement across various dynamics is what it is all about. What’s the point of being in a position of influence and responsibility if everything either stays the same or regresses?  In a disruptive world, our lens must evolve.

During my time as a principal, disruption in the form of Twitter and a student telling me school was like a jail helped me embrace a better lens.  These events served as catalysts for challenging the status quo and working to usher in more innovative practices that were more aligned with preparing our learners for current and future success.  During this time, I developed the Pillars of Digital Leadership and later authored the book around concepts that I found pivotal to the change process leading to transformation.  

While I still firmly believe in their value, I have embraced a more nuanced lens that provides more clarity and relevance.  In education, effective leaders use tried and true strategies with a lens that focuses on the following:

  • Learner Outcomes (improve)
  • Personalized Culture (create)
  • Professional Learning (provide)
  • Multi-faceted communication (engage)
  • Storytelling (embrace)
  • Relationships (develop)
  • Creating opportunities (prioritize)


Let me try to sum this all up in a concise fashion.

A pedagogical focus grounded in research and evidence is critical to improving outcomes for kids both with and without technology.  

Transitioning from a traditional to a more personalized culture emphasizes equity while providing learning spaces that are more reflective of the real world.  

For growth to be the standard, ongoing and job-embedded professional learning is needed as opposed to drive-by events and one-off PD days.  

Stakeholders are immersed in digital spaces.  As such, leaders should meet them where they are and engage in two-way communications that still leverage non-tech approaches.

The best way to control the narrative and tap into the power of emotions is through a storyteller-in-chief mentality.  

Relationships are everything.  By creating a positive brand presence, leaders can develop this priceless currency that will pay dividends time and time again.

Pay it forward. Students and staff thrive when leaders work to create unique opportunities to succeed. 



Truth be told, there isn’t just one right way when it comes to leadership.  If innovation is the goal, it is vital to view change from multiple perspectives.  As things constantly change, be open to allowing your lens to evolve, and in time you will maximize your impact.  

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