‘Top Four’ Essential Skills for Future Leaders

The need for high quality leaders in all fields of endeavour remains an ongoing challenge. Research suggests that only 10 per cent of Australia’s schools are investing in their future pipeline of leaders, with the majority leaving it to chance and circumstance.

So, what are the essential skills and characteristics that should be fostered in our future school leaders?

Following is my ‘top four’ list:

1) Ability to develop relationships
School leaders, now and in the future, will need to artfully manage diverse, complex, interconnected and sometimes dysfunctional relationships with children, parents and peers. Moreover, high-performing schools and their leaders have aspirations for, and engagement with, all students, which leads to improved individual outcomes. 

2) Ability to be self-reflective
Typically, outstanding school leaders are committed to ongoing personal learning typified by professional reading, learning with peers, and having pride in their work and a deep sense of connection to a ‘calling’ rather than the job of school leadership. 

3) Professional fluency
School leaders must develop a ‘professional fluency’ that relates not only to their technical and subject knowledge, but also to a never-ending desire to provide outstanding professional practice. 

4) Resilience, responsiveness and innovation
Faced with continual challenges, school leaders need to be responsive, innovative and highly able strategic thinkers. Effective leaders display high levels of collaboration, measured risk taking, openness to learning and possibility, personal resilience, and the fortitude to ask the necessary questions. 

The next steps for school leadership

The immediate and long-term cases for investing in school leadership are strong and have never been more urgent. Great schools are typically led by talented educational leaders and the identification, nurturing and ongoing development of current and future school leaders is a must for any school committed to the moral purpose of education – making a difference in the lives of all children regardless of circumstance or ability.

For more information on QELi and how you can develop your career, visit www.qeli.qld.edu.au

Dr Stephen BrownIDr Stephen Brown, CEO, Queensland Education Leadership Institute (QELi) Ltd B.A., Grad. Dip Teaching, Grad. Dip Ed. Admin, M.A, Ed.D, GAICD, FACEL, FAIM
Dr Stephen Brown has more than 30 years of Australian and international education experience. Prior to his appointment as CEO of QELi in December 2010, Dr Brown held positions including Regional Director of Hume Region in Victoria and Executive Director of the Literacy and Numeracy Secretariat in the Victorian Department of Education and Early Childhood Development. Dr Brown was awarded the Australian Council for Educational Leaders (ACEL) Nganakarra Award in 2007, an ACEL presidential citation in 2009, and the prestigious ACEL (Qld) Miller-Grassie Award in 2013 for outstanding leadership in education. He has authored research papers on public sector change, leadership and organisational redesign, and is frequently invited to address national and international conferences on leadership, organisational change and school improvement.