Seven Skills Anyone Aspiring to Become an Education Leader Needs to Master

The pandemic crisis has brought about tremendous change in several areas. Here are seven skills an aspiring education leader needs to master.

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Seven Skills Anyone Aspiring to Become an Education Leader Needs to Master

The pandemic crisis has brought about tremendous change in several areas, and education is one such sector that bore its brunt. The demand for social distancing and the shift towards e-learning exerted great pressure on education leaders who had to maintain teaching quality while adapting to the new situation. The pre-existing challenges of resource allocation, integration of technology, etc., have made it even more necessary for education leaders to possess certain skills. Research by RAND corporation showed that around 60% of the school’s influence on a student’s achievement is from effective leadership, particularly the teachers and the principal. To thrive as an education leader, you need to possess certain skills that equip you to handle problems and find rational solutions. We will discuss some of these in detail. Evaluate yourself, and then work on the areas that need improvement.

1.      Ability to adapt and upgrade with change

Educational institutes that refuse to evolve with time can never keep up with the rapidly transforming market demands. The competition is greater now than ever before as the options multiply for the consumers. Digital advancement is the most significant development over the past decade, and online resources have become a major teaching mode. Particularly in the pandemic situation, online video conferencing and virtual classrooms have become necessary. The world expected education leaders to adapt rapidly to this new education model or be left behind.

Several different degree courses like the Educational Administration Master’s Program train educational leaders to integrate technology into their teaching strategy. Such programs include courses designed specifically for this purpose. Such adaptability helps education leaders stay ahead of others and satisfy the market demand regardless of any change.

2.      Emotional sensitivity and intelligence

Emotionally intelligent education leaders are aware of their own and others’ emotions and adapt accordingly. This skill equips you with knowing when to push for feedback, give your team personal space, and detect how your team members feel about certain interventions. It lets you know how to get people to open up about their opinions. As with any other leader, emotional intelligence enables an education leader to regulate their own emotions and not interfere in important decision-making. It also generates empathy and positively impacts the relationship dynamic between you and the team.

Especially in the prevalent pandemic crisis, you must recognize and understand that students and teachers are likely to have faced emotional challenges. Thus, emotional intelligence will generate empathy here.

3.      Cultural sensitivity and competence

In today’s increasingly diverse cultural environment, cultural competence has become important in every sector, including education. Cultural competence is the ability to identify your cultural identity and biases and understand cultural norms in your community. If you do not acknowledge your cultural biases and assumptions, these are likely to unknowingly interfere in your interaction with your team and the students. You should first understand your community and acknowledge its cultural diversity. With this knowledge, try to polish your cross-cultural skills and treat people fairly regardless of their cultural background. In addition to being culturally aware of yourself, as leaders, you should also introduce cultural competence training for the teaching staff.

4.      Good communication skills

Communication is the key to effective education leadership because leaders are supposed to communicate with teachers, parents, students, and each other to implement policies. Especially in the current situation, all parties involved should know about the necessary SOPs and how they will be implemented at your school. In addition to being clear, leaders need to express compassion and understanding through their communication.

Good communicators are also good listeners; communication is as much about listening as talking. People tend to assume what others are about to say, interfere when they are speaking, and put words in their mouths. This is a terrible quality for an education leader. You need to evaluate the situation before deciding, and listening helps collect the information you need to make important decisions. Staying calm and controlling your emotions are equally important. Your level of emotional intelligence has a major impact on how effective your communication is.

5.      Problem-solving ability

Since leaders are in the decision-making position, they need to implement a rational course of action after carefully evaluating the situation. Teachers and principals, for instance, frequently encounter everyday problems like funding complications, problems students have back at home, complaints from parents, etc. Effective problem solving, according to Simon  (1993), involves three steps; identifying the problem, outlining a course of action, and evaluating the decisions.

Secondly, effective education leaders are capable of data-driven decision-making. You should be able to use assessment data related to internal problems, current student performance, individual students’ strengths, etc. This assessment then forms the basis of the next course of action. The volatile and constantly changing prevailing situation has created even more day-to-day problems that leaders need to address. Hence, a good problem-solving ability has become more important.

6.      Good relationship management skills

Leaders in any sector or organization must maintain successful relationships between the various parties involved. School leaders are supposed to satisfy parents, establish strong positive relationships with students, and establish a bond within the staff. Negative feedback, occasional complaints, and difficult conversations are all expected in the three-way dynamic between school, parents, and students. Education leaders must manage these conflicts effectively while maintaining good relationships.

7.      IT skills

IT skills are a demand of the current age; no profession can function without at least some knowledge about IT. This is true for educational leadership as well. Education leaders are expected to be up-to-date about recent technology. Parents today prefer institutes that incorporate such tools, and for this to happen, the education leadership should be familiar with it first.

Final words

Education leaders require a set of skills that enable them to take charge and influence others. Successful leaders are those who can adapt to change, exhibit emotional intelligence and cultural competence, communicate effectively, and have good problem-solving skills. If not for these, school leaders would not be able to deal with everyday problems effectively and manage good relationships with parents and students. While all these skills might come naturally, you can also polish them through practice and further learning. 


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