Educational system has its own particularities and when discussing about leadership, the traits that define a leader are adapted to this system. This paper presents some leadership traits as they were identified from a professional activating in education field. The answers that the professional provided are interpreted and compared with specific notions of leadership, as they were illustrated in the Leadership Quality Paper (LQP). The paper identifies more differences than similarities in the way the professional perceives and applies leadership, compared to the traits revealed from LQP. The current paper also proposes a further research, meant to identify if the educational professionals consider themselves more managers or more leaders and what are their distinctive traits that qualify them for being either managers or leaders. Likewise, the further research should also investigate their relationship with the students and their assertive communication and active listening skills.
Leadership in the Career Context
1. Leadership qualities, as perceived by the interviewed professional
“There is nothing personal, it’s just business” seems to be a major aspect of leadership, as the interviewed professional working in the education field perceives it. The interviewed person stated that although he holds a managerial position, he has very good personal relations with his stuff, considering most of them his friends. Nevertheless, when it comes down to their work, all of them, un-discriminatory, must follow the policies and procedures of the school and the education system. The same thinking is applied when discussing about the parents of the students. Any issue or conflict is solved according to the procedures and regulations, there is no other way. This suggests the strictness of the professional from the educational field.
There were other qualities that the education professional has indicated as significant related to management and leadership. As such, a good distribution of tasks, delegation of duties and of responsibilities, a very well organized and structured business environment, based on policies, procedures and regulations is what constitute a leader. Likewise, the ability to guide, to obtain accomplishments and success for the projects (obtained also by respecting procedures) integers the education professional’s perception about leadership.
The Leadership Qualities Paper (LQP) has identified four major qualities of leadership: competence, excellent communication, respect and an open – mind. The interview presents different qualities, mostly related to structuring, organizing and planning and less related to the four characteristics of leadership identified in the LQP.
Therefore, based on the interview responses, in order to prepare for a career in education, one should have the ability to lead, to guide, by strictly applying the procedures and the rules of the school and of the education system, when dealing with the staff, with the students, or with the students’ parents. Moreover, he/she should properly structure his/her activity and to develop the authority to delegate tasks and responsibilities, empowering others with the sense of responsibility also. Like this, the structure, the planning and the organizing spirit, highly important determinants of leadership (according to the vision of the interviewed professional) are to be transmitted from educator to educator, creating a rigorous working environment, but aligned to a unique system.
2. How leadership qualities can be developed for someone interested in working in the system or currently working in the system?
Open – mindedness, communication, ability to discuss the problems and to solve them, this assertive communication are not elements that the education manager that sustained the interview mentioned as relevant for a leader working in the educational system. Instead, there was pointed the fact that leaders should stay up to date with the evolutions or changes related to the educational field, either if this would refer to legislative aspects, information and technology updates or simply to the content of the courses. This approach is related to competence, which was an aspect that was specified as one of the leadership qualities in the LQP. Supporting the same idea, the interviewed professional also illustrated as significant the fact that the educators should perform their jobs, empowering the students thru education, which requires competence. Therefore, this is how persons who want to work in education can develop their leadership skills: by respecting procedures, keeping up to date to with any novelty within the system and understanding that school is a business and everybody should follow indicators, for reaching success.
The respect, a quality that was underlined as important in the LQP, was not directly stated in the interview answers, but the educational professional indirectly referred to this aspect when discussing about the policies and procedures, about the relationship between him and the staff and between him and the parents. Nevertheless, the respect in his case seems to refer precisely to the policies and procedures, and not to persons.
Therefore, as these information revealed from the interview sustained with the educational professional, for him personally the strictness and the organization where more important that the communication abilities and the respect for procedures prevailed the respect for persons (staff, students, educators).
This could suggest that in the educational system being a leader conveys to being a good managers, respecting the rules, and determining others to do the same. This is an authoritative leadership style, whereas the one presented in the LQP more indicates the charismatic leadership style. However, from one single interview with one representative of the leadership from educational system, reaching this conclusion would be hasty.
3. Three points of interest to be further researched
Therefore, I would like to expand this research, asking more leaders from educational system about what qualities they consider relevant for activating as leaders in the educational system and what would they recommend the persons who would like to activate in this system to develop, for becoming leaders at their turn.
Moreover, I would like to also reach other issues related to leadership within the educational system. I would like to know how they perceive the difference between management and leadership in their positions, whether they consider themselves leaders or managers and what type of leadership/management they adopt. This discussion proposes to differentiate between managers (who are mostly focusing on the formal, executive authority, on procedures, indicators and planning) and leaders (focused on informal, gained authority, on vision and on people).
I would also like to ask them to evaluate their abilities of active listening and affective communication and to understand whether these aspects are important or relevant for them as leaders activating in the education system.
onetheless, I am mostly curious about learning what is their relationship with students: how they provide information and transfer knowledge, how they interact with students, how they apply discipline and if they have any rewarding system.