Applying “The Key To Successful Leadership” Quote to Schools
The quote “The key to successful leadership today is influence, not authority.” is attributed to Kenneth H. Blanchard, an American author and management expert who has written many books on leadership, teamwork, and organisational development. He is best known for co-authoring The One Minute Manager series with Spencer Johnson, which has sold over 13 million copies worldwide.
The exact origin of the quote is not clear, but it appears in several of his books and articles, such as Leadership and the One Minute Manager: Increasing Effectiveness Through Situational Leadership (1985), The Heart of a Leader: Insights on the Art of Influence (1999), and Enhance Your Leadership Through Influence (2017). The quote reflects Blanchard’s core philosophy of leadership, which is based on the concept of situational leadership. According to Blanchard, situational leadership is the ability to adapt one’s leadership style to the needs and maturity level of the followers, and to use different combinations of directive and supportive behaviors to influence them. Blanchard argues that effective leaders do not rely on their formal position or power to get things done, but rather on their personal skills and qualities to persuade, inspire, and motivate others to work towards a common vision and goals.
The quote has been widely cited and shared by various sources, such as books, articles, blogs, podcasts, and social media, as a source of inspiration and guidance for aspiring and practicing leaders in different fields and contexts. The quote highlights the importance of influencing others rather than commanding them for effective leadership, and the need to develop and enhance one’s influencing skills and strategies. The quote also implies that anyone can be an influential leader, regardless of their role, title, or position, as long as they have the ability and willingness to influence others positively and constructively.
What are the Challenges to Successful Leadership of Schools?
The quote “The key to successful leadership today is influence, not authority.” by Ken Blanchard is particularly relevant for school leaders, who are responsible for leading and managing complex and dynamic educational organisations that aim to improve teaching and learning outcomes for all students.
School leaders face various challenges and opportunities in their roles, such as ensuring high-quality instruction and curriculum, allocating and managing resources effectively and efficiently, engaging and collaborating with diverse and sometimes conflicting stakeholders. These include staff, students, parents, community, and external partners. School leaders are also responsible for driving forward a positive and collaborative school culture that supports learning and well-being.
To overcome these challenges and seize these opportunities, school leaders need to influence not only their staff, but also the whole school community. These stakeholders may have different and sometimes competing interests, needs, and expectations. School leaders need to be able to align these stakeholders with the school’s vision and goals, and to create a shared sense of ownership and commitment to the school’s improvement and success.
How can Successful School Leaders Influence the Community?
Build trust and credibility
Trust is the foundation of any successful leadership relationship, and school leaders need to build and maintain trust with all members of the school community, by being honest, transparent, consistent, and reliable. This means that school leaders need to say what they mean, mean what they say, and do what they say. They also need to show their competence, expertise, and commitment to the school’s vision and goals, and to the well-being and success of their staff and students. School leaders need to know their stuff, do their best, and care for their people. Experience counts for a lot and Trust is not something that can be earned overnight, but it can be lost in a moment. Therefore, school leaders need to be careful and mindful of their actions and words, and to avoid any behaviours or situations that may compromise their trustworthiness or credibility.
Communication is the key to any successful collaboration, and school leaders need to communicate clearly, frequently, and appropriately with different audiences, using various channels and formats. This means that school leaders need to tailor their messages and methods to suit the needs and preferences of their listeners, and to use the most effective and efficient ways to convey their information and feedback. They also need to articulate the school’s vision and goals clearly.
This is not just about an email but being able to explain how they influence decisions that are taken and how they influence the rationale behind unpopular choices. A school leader at any level must share relevant information and feedback, listen actively and empathetically, and address concerns and questions, not just with facts an “because I said so” authority but influence the minds of their teams. This means that school leaders need to inspire and inform, praise and correct, hear and understand, and respond and resolve. Leaders lead best when they are able to leverage persuasive and inspirational language, stories, and examples to appeal to the emotions and values of their followers. School leaders need to touch their hearts, not just their minds, and to make them feel and believe, not just think and know.
Empower and involve others
Empowerment is the key to any successful delegation, and school leaders need to empower and involve their staff, and provide them with autonomy, support, and recognition. This means that school leaders need to give them the authority and responsibility to make decisions and solve problems, and to provide them with the resources and guidance they need to succeed.
When you lead a school or department a key skill is to encourage and facilitate collaboration, teamwork, and shared decision-making among staff, students, parents, and other stakeholders. Creating a culture of trust and cooperation, where everyone can contribute and participate, and where diversity and inclusion are valued and respected is essential. The leaders also need to create opportunities for learning, development, and innovation within their teams, and to celebrate and reward achievements and successes.
Model and demand positive behaviours and attitudes
Modelling is the key to any successful influence, and successful school leaders need to model and demand positive behaviours and attitudes for themselves and others, and to act as role models of professionalism, integrity, and excellence. A School leader needs to walk the talk, not just talk the talk, and to demonstrate the behaviours and attitudes they expect from others. They also need to promote and exemplify the school’s values, norms, and culture, and to encourage and reinforce positive behaviours and attitudes among staff and students. They also need to acknowledge and address negative behaviours and attitudes, and to provide constructive and corrective feedback and guidance. This means that school leaders need to create a fair and accountable environment, where everyone can learn from their mistakes, and where negative behaviours and attitudes are challenged and corrected.
- The quote “The key to successful leadership today is influence, not authority.” by Ken Blanchard highlights the importance of influencing others rather than commanding them for effective school leadership.
- School leaders can influence others by building trust and credibility, communicating effectively, empowering and involving others, and modelling and fostering positive behaviours and attitudes.
- By doing so, school leaders can create a shared vision and goals, enhance teaching and learning outcomes, improve staff and student motivation and satisfaction, and foster a positive and collaborative school culture.