Teacher journal archive (2008-2011)

Article Title

Finding tomorrow's leaders today


A projected leadership shortage is of increasing concern to schools and education systems as they face the loss of many of their current leaders to retirement and the perceived reluctance of a new generation to take on leadership. While anecdotal evidence suggests that this reluctance might be overstated, the fact is that schools need increasingly to manage succession planning to prepare for the complex educational environment of the 21st century. What is 'succession'? Effective succession means having a plan and making plans to create positive and co-ordinated flows of leadership, across many years and numerous people. Effective leadership succession planning ensures schools can provide a steady flow of leaders through the pipeline to feed into the organisation. Some schools are already looking at new models of leadership to cope with the demands placed on current leaders and to cover already existing shortages in some areas. Three main models seem to have evolved, two of which have gained some acceptance in Australia. These are co-principalship, where two part-time incumbents share a single position or both work full-time to share the principal load; and executive principalship, where the principal becomes the chief executive officer (CEO) of the organisation and has two or three heads of school to assist in sharing the leadership load. In the UK, another model for leadership is emerging called the Federation Approach. This model involves a group of two or more schools that formally agree to work together to raise standards. One principal oversees a number of schools, challenging the tradition of each school having its own head. The literature clearly indicates that finding tomorrow's leaders is a growing preoccupation of schools and systems. It would appear that individual schools would be unwise to ignore the need to develop new leaders. If the much-publicised leadership shortage eventuates, schools that are prepared will have a clear advantage over their competitors; if it does not, the same schools will have increased their leadership capacity and have more highly-skilled staff, and will be well placed to respond to challenges and opportunities. [Author abstract, ed]

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