Video Highlights[00:10] The definition of instructional leadership capacity
[00:29] Two kinds of decisions we make (both are important—one is often underrated)
[01:04] The “bottleneck” problem for leaders—and its consequences
[01:47] Wallace Foundation research highlights
[02:14] Individual productivity (part of capacity)
[02:24] Two essentials to empower your staff with
[02:50] Definition recap
[03:14] Suggested steps to build capacity
At The Principal Center, it’s our mission to help you build capacity for instructional leadership in your organization.
But what is instructional leadership capacity?
We define it as an organization’s ability to make and implement both operational and improvement decisions. I want to unpack that for you just briefly.
First of all, let’s talk about decision making.
We know as leaders we’re charged with making all manner of decisions for the good of our school, whether those are operational decisions that happen on a day-to-day basis, or whether those are major changes—big strategic initiatives—we have to make all kinds of different decisions.
Then, of course, we have to implement those decisions.
Implementing one set of decisions requires that we then make more decisions.
So decision-making is one of what we call the four cornerstones of instructional leadership capacity.
But it’s also important to understand that we’re not the only ones who make those decisions in our schools.
Throughout the school, lots and lots of people are making decisions all the time.
And typically as leaders, we serve as somewhat of a bottleneck. Lots of people bring lots of decisions to us to make the final call.
And when those bottlenecks are in place it slows down the work of improvement, and it constrains day-to-day operations within the school.
So what we want to do to build capacity for instructional leadership is two things:
- First of all, we want to increase your ability to make timely, high-quality decisions on behalf of your school, to get back to other people to allow them to move forward with their work.
- And we also want to allow other people to make as many of those decisions for themselves as possible.
There’s been a great deal of research on the nature of instructional leadership, especially the research funded by the Wallace Foundation, that’s found that instructional leadership is inherently distributed.
And what that means is that if you’re the principal, you are not the only decision maker. You are not the only source of instructional leadership within your school.
In fact, even if there’s an administrative team, leadership is distributed more broadly than that team. It’s an organization-level property.
So when we look at how to build capacity for instructional leadership, we’re not just looking at how to improve one individual’s productivity, though of course, that is a lot of what we focus on at The Principal Center.
We’re also looking at how to build the capacity of the organization, and one way to do that is to empower your entire staff to have greater clarity and greater authority to make the decisions that are most relevant to moving their work forward.
So, we can build capacity for instructional leadership as an organizational property by ensuring that everyone is empowered and informed to make the decisions that they need to, again, to move the work forward, both on improvement and operational issues.
So let’s recap our definition once more: an organization’s instructional leadership capacity is its ability to make and implement operational and improvement decisions—and again that runs both through you as the instructional leader, and through everyone on your staff.
So, I want to invite you to check out the resources we have at www.PrincipalCenter.com to help you build capacity for instructional leadership in your school.
And if you haven’t been through the 21-Day Instructional Leadership Challenge, which is our flagship free program to help you do that, you can sign up any time at www.InstructionalLeadershipChallenge.com.