Monday, 11 July 2011

Balancing Leadership and Management

What is leadership and what is management?

Both are very important in organizational life and shouldn't be confused. 

Leadership is doing the right thing; management is doing things right.  Managers direct the hacking of a new path through the jungle; leaders make sure that they are in the right jungle.

One of the major contributions that a leader can make is to always be able to distinguish between these two important functions.  We often become so focused on the day-to-day realities of what we do that we lose sight of whether we are doing the right thing.

Leaders often have to ask the hard questions: Are we getting the best results possible?  Where can we improve?  Who is not learning and what can we do about it?  Are there ethical issues involved?  What knowlwedge and skills do our staff need, and how will they get them?  Will the proposed staff development give us what we need?  Is our strategic planning effective?  These queries will help you challenge the status quo that is often accepted without question.

Think about the leadership role you play and ask yourself the following questions:

  1. Why are you doing what you are doing?
  2. What data do you have to show that you are addressing the right problems and doing the right work?
  3. How are you spending your time? What percentage of your day is spent on managing tasks?  What percentage of your day is focused on setting the course, engaging with others and providing leadership?
  4. Are you sure you are "doing the right things" before you set up procedures to "do things right"?

From:  Leading Every Day by Joyce Kaser, Susan Mundry, Katherine E. Stiles, & Susan Loucks-Horsley
Published by: Corwin Press


  1. An effective leader should have good management skills but not be simply managing. As stated, leadership needs to be the focus of the work that we do. This complex relationship of leadership and management skills is key to being effective in our roles. Leadership is requiring both forward and reflective thinking with the objective being to plan for and support further improvement for the organization. In order to be strong in these leadership skills we must be clear about our goals and have a plan that is SMART. Being able to clearly articulate what, how, when, and why about our goals and plans is very important. Another essential component of this leadership plan is the ongoing measurement of successes and areas of weakness as this will inform our next steps. The leader must devote a great deal of time to the what, why, and how of strategic plans for improvment and the manager might focus more on the what and when for these plans.

  2. I like the phrase about the jungle... not necessarily meaning that we are in a jungle (although it does feel like that some days!) I will say that some have tried to separate the two roles (manager, and leader) unsuccessfully. I appreciate the desire to have our targets and goals in the school - it "makes" me think about the curriculum leadership aspect of the school and move away from the day to day management that always comes up and gets in the way. However without the right management we will never get to leading. One big piece is ensure that as the leader you develop capacity in others so that they can take care of some of the day to day managing. Think of the classroom teacher - if you can help empower them to take care of the "little" items about kids then only the "big" items come to your desk. If I can help train a teacher with strategies for classroom management and empower them to make some decisions about discipline that allows me to focus on the other aspects through the day. The big things need to come to me still, and I need to hear updates - but email works for those; quick phone calls to confirm that their decision is one I can support allows them to take care of it so I can provide leadership in other areas.

    K. Ko

  3. Teknoteach- the same comment resonated with me..."Managers direct the hacking of a new path through the jungle; leaders make sure that they are in the right jungle."
    So often we lose sight of what we are really doing and why. I like the questions asked in this blog-but would add one more in terms of leadership:
    How and when do we know that our leadership plan is working/ successful?
    Although this relates most directly to question # 2,I think that it helps keep us " in the right jungle".
    And lastly, I see a strong connections between Marznao's principles from our last blog and this piece. Without keeping shared values and goals in mind, I think I would find it challenging to plan strategically.

  4. The relationship between leadership and management is really complex. The way I see that relationship is that leadership is the capacity of one who can potentially be a manager. Not everyone who has leadership can be a manager, but an effective manager must have good leadership skills in order to perform the tasks of what a manager is expected to do. In the setting of a school, administrator will need to have strong leadership skills in order to manage the building well. Many other teachers have strong leadership skills but they are not necessary the one who manages the school building, but they can manage about a totally of 100 students (in secondary) in the classrooms every day.

    School administrators are really the “lead teacher”. Besides the leadership capacity of managing people in the building, they are supposed to be the leader of the curriculum instruction. On the other hand, leader does not have to “know and understand” everything happening under the roof of the school building, but they need to know how to deal with and manage the issues when they happen.

    In my leadership role, I assess the direction of my decision (if I am addressing to the right problems and doing the right work) by reflecting my practice on regular basis on top of getting feedbacks from other colleagues and my supervisor. I tend not to forget following up with my clients (students, parents and community) as well.

    Lastly, I think school leader, just like everyone else, is not perfect. There should be small rooms for making mistakes and the most important thing is school leaders know how to learn from mistakes in the past.

  5. I wonder if we see these two concepts as hierarchical, with leadership assuming the loftier perch, rather than complimentary?

    I tend to see both management and leadership as interrelated and connected aspects that are evident in effective teams or systems. I sought out the origins and definitions of the terms and found it to be instructive:

    Other than the fact that they both have some connections to horses, the origins offered me some food for thought. As important as it is to set the direction and vision; to 'travel' and 'show the way', the process of bringing this about requires one to act in the face of 'difficulty and hardship'. It's just as important to be willing to hold the reigns as it is to hold the compass.

    It can be tempting to settle into to one dimension or the other (too much vision with no action is no better than just managing with no vision) I'm sure we can think of some examples of both. I think that is what Tamar is alluding to in her reply.

    Lastly, the post reminded me of a video I've seen that represents how these two concepts look when they operate in synthesis:

    Thanks for your ideas and insights :)

    Brian Harrison

  6. In thinking of some of the replies and the original post, I am thinking the following: How would you move from manager to leader in a situation where the people you work with are not taking up leadership at the local level? I am not implying that is my situation, however you hear of lots of places where that seems to be the case. To move to leadership and get the management pieces under control, this could take a year or two. We do need to have the two interrelated and not hierarchial - otherwise the VP/P structure would be that the VP only does management (ie: discipline) while the P takes the visioning forward?

  7. The line that resonate most with me was, "These queries will help you challenge the status quo that is often accepted without question." In a time when the rate of change is increasing significantly, and when there is a distinct sense of weariness trying to keep up with all the changes - across the whole system, it is more than ever important to make sure we're on the right path.
    Leadership alone is not enough. A vision is not enough. Management alone is not enough. I ask myself - what would it take for me to want to change if my time was already at a premium, and my energies getting depleted?
    To welcome change, it really does need to be meaningful, have value in the eyes of those involved, be well thought out with a clear path for how to get there together.
    Not easy, but a worthy challenge!

  8. @technoteach: Your comment, "the VP/P structure would be that the VP only does management (ie: discipline) while the P takes the visioning forward?" evoked a question in me - Why is discipline a form of management rather than leadership? If we are dealing with 'each' youth, child; if we are using inappropriate behaviours as opportunities for learning; if we are looking to understand our community of learners yet more deeply to find assets in each and every student, however difficult - then all of these can transform a school from the inside out!

    The VP is a leader and model for respectful, inclusive and caring behaviour in the most difficult times - facing the student to tells them to 'f*** off' or just plain ignores them - that is real leadership. And finding solutions together - that is real management.

    I like your solution of not seeing 'hierarchy' but role differentiation under a larger umbrella. There's a change worth pursuing.

  9. @Jan, I think back over the past 8 years in administration and what I have done. Bringing things together, I would say the majority of work done has been managing the building. I have was previously not able (for a variety of reasons) to focus on how to move things forward - the visionary aspect of leadership. Discipline is definitely a form of learning for students and the building of the capacity of each child not only for behaviour in school but society at large is a "noble" task indeed. Is it school leadership? In some ways yes, but I find that if my focus is solely or predominantly the discipline I forget the other areas that will help affect change in how we do things and why we do them. Emotionally, after dealing with discipline little time and energy is left to walk into a classroom with objective eyes and discuss practices with a teacher. Some of this goes back to the first post last week and balancing the P/VP roles together.


  10. Jan- your comment regarding tekno's idea that
    "the VP/P structure would be that the VP only does management (ie: discipline) while the P takes the visioning forward?" evoked a question in me - Why is discipline a form of management rather than leadership?" interested me.
    Why can't how we sort our discipline be about leadership and learning as opposed to a task we need to manage? If we are usimg progressive discipline and /or restorative approaches, this would seem to be more in the context of leadership. Can this lead to more proactive means of dealing with discipline in order to free up more time for administration to work with instructional leadership.

    small offices:
    I too see them as interrelated.
    To be, leadership is the puting forth and carrying out of change, while management manages not only discipline, but also the maintainance of these changes.Finding the balance is key, and sometimes feels like I am doing a juggling act!

  11. This article is short but incredibly deep. Like so many of you, the phrase about "hacking a new path through the jungle" and "being in the right jungle" really resonated and made me smile! It's a reminder to not get too caught up with hacking that path so that one overlooks identifying, not just that it's the right jungle through which to hack, but also that the path goes in the right direction and has a destination! The jungle analogy is particularly appropriate because unless you have an understanding of the how it works as an ecosystem, you're unlikely to choose an appropriate path or even to "hack" at the appropriate undergrowth! When the jungle becomes overwhelming we must remember that we're not alone - and functioning as a team is the way to get through.

    We must be manangers and leaders simultaneously -can we "mangage tasks" and "set the course" at the same time? I think a really effective leader does just that - it's in the way we manage the tasks. It speaks to having a very clear vision and having it articulated in everything you do. I make two connections: one is to Stephen Covey who, in "The 7 Habits", advises the recording of one's own mission and vision and revisiting it regularly.
    The second connection is to Robert Dunn, who always reminds us that we must ensure that we are examing the "right" data so that we can set a clear path.
    Much food for thought!

  12. The relationship between leader and manager is indeed multifaceted and complex. I think that the concept that separates the two is VISION, and has been mentioned by various people in their posts. A leader must have a clear, meaningful and communicated vision. A manger doesn’t need his/her own vision, but be skilled at interpreting and implementing the vision of others. In a school board, the school leader’s vision must be harmonious with the board’s vision, but still unique to the school specifics and context. Being a good manager is part of the job requirements of being a principal and certainly helps with leadership.

  13. Athena Loopstra13 July 2011 at 08:43

    The relationship between leader and manager is indeed multifaceted and complex. I think that the concept that separates the two is VISION, and has been mentioned by various people in their posts. A leader must have a clear, meaningful and communicated vision. A manger doesn’t need his/her own vision, but be skilled at interpreting and implementing the vision of others. In a school board, the school leader’s vision must be harmonious with the board’s vision, but still unique to the school specifics and context. Being a good manager is part of the job requirements of being a principal and certainly helps with leadership.

    Athena Loopstra

  14. Athena Loopstra13 July 2011 at 08:48

    Lynne Cohen reminds us to make sure we are using the right data to inform decisions. I think about this every year when creating the SIP, which is mainly based upon EQAO data. While EQAO is certainly very important and the data must influence planning and instruction, it is not the only source of relevant data. As leader, it sometimes takes great courage to ensure that various types of data are used effectively and in a meaningful way. I think of how YRDSBs current director has a vision of improving student well-being. This will require looking at new types of data and at the school level, the leader must take appropriate measures to ensure that well-being is addressed.

  15. Athena Loopstra13 July 2011 at 08:53

    As a VP or a principal, how much time do you devote to leadership items compared to managerial items- or can you even tease the two apart? I am currently a teacher and my observations of administration is that much time is spent with (necessary) managment items. However, I would think that many (if not most) administrators went into school leadership because of their desire and skill in leading and communicating their vision. I would greatly appreciate feedback from the various principals and VPs in the group. Thanks

  16. I think an effective leader is able to balance the "managing" with "setting the course". However, it can be so easy to be caught up in the day-to-day 'management' that the bigger picture is lost. I remember having an administrator who spent the majority of her time in the office working on paperwork, etc. All very important parts of her role but she was rarely visible to staff, students and parents and therefore was seen as inaccessible and someone who had lost touch with the bigger picture. I think it would be easy to fall into this trap and the key to avoiding this would be to ask ourselves the questions suggested in the post. Taking time for self-reflection is important - but this is often difficult to do.
    I often wonder how an administrator can balance everything. A friend of mine who is a single administrator shared with me that she spends her day dedicated to setting the direction by being in classrooms, interacting with students, teachers and parents and dedicates the hours before and afterschool to the 'management' pieces.
    We always talk about balance as leaders and I wonder what strategies others have found helpful in finding this balance?

  17. As Athena and Teknoteach have said, it's very easy to get caught up in the "management" side of leadership at the admin level. It is so easy to get onto the path of thinking that if you just complete this one thing, then it will possible to focus on leading! The one thing quickly becomes two, then five, then ten things! I think one must carefully manage and schedule one's time - for example,some admin merely check in with email during the day and respond after school. I've found it helpful to schedule time to walk about during instructional time - just walk out of the office door (with the walkie talkie of course!)- the paper, the laptop the phone messages will all be there when you return! Then answer a few phone messages and emails and walk out again! Sounds easy, but it certainly is not - and it takes a great deal of effort to be very disciplined (I don't profess to always be successful at it!). One P really expects, relies on and trusts teachers to take control of the discipline, keeping the office as a last resort. If necessary, the P will discuss a course of action with the teacher, who then deals with the student. This too is building capacity. In another building a well-respected and very capable CYW is relied on for support with social and behavioural issues, again with the office as a last resort. These two alternatives to the P and/or VP dealing with every issue result in a great deal of healthy respect for the "office" and self-efficacy for staff. It's really tough to remind onself that one is not the only problem-solver in the building - this is a trap into which it is very easy to fall! It might be worthwhile to explore resources to support teachers, E.A.s and CYWs in problem-solving - using the Restorative Approach, ensuring TRIBES is in place, student engagement is high, instruction is differentiated to meet student needs, being consistent, fair and equitable,etc., etc., to name but a few that come to mind quickly. Maybe a sharing of strategies (for staff to manage issues that can be managed at the classroom level) at a staff meeting or P.A. day? Ultimately, I think every individual finds his or her own way to balance leading and managing effectively - it's great to read articles like this that give us a nudge and some suggestions.

  18. @Kevin: spending most of your time disciplining students is also part of what the real focus of administrator: student success. I think if I would do the same thing if I were you.

    I am currently a secondary teacher but in many cases, administrators are "expected" to deal with discipline issues and teachers indeed don't have the time to deal with all these things in secondary school.

    In our busy life, prioritizing is our first priority, isn't it.

  19. I was initially was going to comment on the jungle analogy but I didn't really like the connotations when applied to a school but obviously there are possible connections. All can be found in the interpretations. Student behaviour management seems to be a reoccurring issue for leaders to manage. I agree with Lynne about the proactive approach of having preset expectations for Tribes classrooms,support for teachers with the CYWs, teachers differentiating for students and further engaging them in their learning, therefore reducing some behaviours significantly. The balance of classroom management and the need for administrator student management should be discussed with the staff so expectations are clear. All of the staffs' time is valuable as is the learning time for the students and many issues can be solved by being proactive. The P/VP role would be difficult to do should a majority of their time be spent devoted to only managing student bahaviour. The leadership must come in setting up the stakeholders for success through careful planning for suppoprts and improving the teachers' skills for being the classroom managers.

  20. Claire Hainstock14 July 2011 at 11:02

    I often wonder how much of VP or P's entry plan is kept beyond the first couple of months. It seems that the leadership potential of that piece is often relegated to the managerial aspects. Relatedly, many of the "leaders" in the school are not moveable, cannot be cross-fertilized, or are on different management agendas.

    The number of different stakeholders in a school is truly unprecedented and the Principal's ability to lead them is constantly balanced against the need to manage them. Unions, administrative transfers, community, and others all have different needs and wants which may not mesh with the leadership direction; much of which comes from the top down.

    What are our tools to take this diverse group and build common leadership goals? Skills? How do we track what common understandings, training, and directions our school community may have? We may talk leadership but it is probably much closer to management than we would like to admit.

  21. Claire Hainstock14 July 2011 at 12:29

    Indulge me for a moment.
    I was struck by the Director's mention of the "qualitative" aspects of our system in his initial leadership speech for the 2010-11 school year. Our article references "doing the right thing versus doing things right." However, I have a dilemma in how leadership is being used as opposed to management of these types of situations in our system.

    My dilemma relates any possible data a school leader would have on this topic and, more importantly, what would leaders do with it? Would it be the number of absences by teaching professionals in a particular year? Is it the timing of absences? What about students? Is it their absences and timing? What about the number of divorces among staff? Is it anecdotal?

    If there is a trend of teachers taking sick days during crunch times or students staying home before an evaluation, how is leadership supposed to deal with this? A system-wide response clearly did not work the first or second time in the case of the 10 absences for teachers. Teachers, in turn, seldom have any real ability to modify student behaviour in situations where students are skipping to study.
    Leadership should go beyond the obvious and look for ways to improve the situation. Yet, despite the clear emphasis on the qualitative, the system has not really dealt with these types of issues. Perhaps it cannot deal with these issues in any defined leadership manner and we are left only with the ability to manage the issues in an informal or ad hoc way, despite their importance.

  22. Claire Hainstock14 July 2011 at 12:51

    It has been mentioned that a manager doesn’t need his or her own vision but rather must be skilled at interpreting and implementing the vision of others. I have a fundamental problem with this view in that, to me, it implies a very top down approach. Does this also imply that Board policy is made in a vacuum? To what extent are school leaders involved with the formulating of policy?

    If the answer is very little, then it appears that most of what we believe is school leadership is, in reality, school management.

  23. I will add to the discussion that much of the managerial work done can definitely be for student success. I do not want to say that the work I do on that aspect is not integral to the moving forward of the organization.

    I will say though that unless I keep the VISION aspect in front of me on top of the managerial work then I never move. "If you always do what you've always done, you will always be where you've always been." I do not mind the idea that the Director's message may be done in a vacuum (although I have connected to his points quite readily in general) (and I know it is not just done in a vacuum, but with input - but with an organization of this size it is hard to hear every voice). I am able to move forward with this goals in mind. We need some kind of vision to push forward towards. As leaders we need to know what the goal for the organization is - we do not create separate end points for each school - our means may be different, but we need to push in one common direction.

    I will say that 7 years previous experience outside of YRDSB as a P was mostly managerial. I was unable to push forward (partially due to a "fuzzy" vision for the future) and so I keep in the front of my mind that much of the day to day is managerial work but I must devote some time during the week to the bigger picture. That bigger picture must incorporate where the board wants to go. We in some ways are all middle managers - we are not the director and so we must lead from the middle and influence those all around us. (360 Leader, by John Maxwell)

  24. There is a talk on by Barry Schwartz describing his work, The Paradox of Choice. When I read the question, "Why do you do what you do?" I remembered some articles and speakers who explained that when you share with others the WHY in what you do, people will buy into it if it is a philosophy that benefits themselves as well as the greater good! It's your essence of being that is the most important part of leadership! Why are you doing what you do in your leadership? Barry Schwartz describes that giving people too much choice is debilitating and overwhelming. Certainly choice is important and giving choice is empowering yet too much choice certainly makes things more difficult. As a leader, tell others why you are offering particular programs or decisions in organization, then offer one or two choices for others to feel a part of your leadership. How do I know which choices I need to offer to help lead others toward a positive goal is to ask questions. Speaking to others when I prepare lessons for my students or prepare a DI session for staff, I always ask questions about what staff would like to see based on what is available and the advantages of each choice. Ensuring to always be transparent and explaining the WHY makes a big difference and there is not hidden agenda!

  25. Thanks Nadia R for mentioning that it is a balance. Admittedly, when I read the article I felt a sinking feeling in my stomach. Being that I am a leader, but not a VP or P, I felt overwhelmed with the idea of needing to manage all of these aspects to ensure we are impactful leaders. But, Lynne did mention the importance of balance. Perhaps we should keep these reflecting questions close to helpful inform our day to day actions.

    These questions highlight how important it is for leaders to be self reflective of their own actions just as much as we reflect on how impactful an initiative might be for our staff. Do leaders get lost thinking about how to change others that we forget to make sure we are too?

  26. Thesmalleroffice posted a youtube link that highlighted the importance of the first follower. What a great video. its absolutely true that we need to remember that a leader isn't effective if there isn't anyone following them.

  27. I think we can now create a term called managementship, which is management plus leadership. The more I read the responses, I more I feel that they are merging closer and closer to each other.

    I believe administrators are necessary to have leadership at the school level. Where at the board level, senior managements like superintedents, who were principals before, are involved and consulted when policies are drafted. Although SO do not approve the documents (trustees do), they do have a strong opinion in it and that influencing skills is also leadership.

  28. I have been reading others' posts and notice a thread of comments on the importance of a balance between leadership and management! I view leadership as dealing with people i.e. staff, parents, students and community members; I see management as dealing with timetables, schedules, details that help the leadership move forward from a technical point of view. Management is the vehicle for leadership. Managing well can help transport and promote your leadership visions! For example, we want to lead teachers toward a new learning incentive adopted as effective yet we need to manage the opportunities and events that will bring the new learning to the teachers in a motivating way. Managing your leadership is looking at the mechanical details of sharing the vision!

  29. @Tamar. No, I don't think the VP role in any way should be the discipline role. I agree with teknoteach that it often is relegated to this role. I also believe that discipline is leadership, not management. We're back to definitions, aren't we. Discipline is about doing the right things not about doing things right. We lead students as well as staff.
    All that said, the relegation of a VP to 'discipline as management' and a primary role, I suspect suppresses a great deal of talent let alone constitutes poor preparation for Principal-ship.

  30. @Benjamin: Do you see a role for managers in schools with over 1,000 students? Would that free up admin, heads, divisional leads for much of the leadership/implementation role?
    I think the article is a little misleading???. We tend to think of management as ordering, making sure the building is in good shape etc., and it is. But the article seems to be talking about 'implementation of the vision' as management. So, it's really about leading and implementing rather than managing.
    Thinking aloud...

  31. It seems like we're really getting into a discussion about the meanings of "managing" and "leading" as discrete ideals. I'd like to respond to Ben's post where he says that "Not everyone who has leadership can be a manager, but an effective manager must have good leadership skills in order to perform the tasks of what a manager is expected to do." While managing can be time-consuming and overshadow the need to lead, the skill of leading takes intuition, emotional intelligence, good foundational knowledge and understanding of what it is the people you are leading need to know and do, and time devoted to considering where you are leading and the resources you are providing or highlighting in order to get there. Leaders must also be effective managers.

    I've been reading "The First 90 Days" by Michael Watkins, and while it focuses on business leadership, there are many, many parallels to the role of educational leader. In a section I read today, Watkins talks about the need to align "systems" with "structure". He uses the human body as an analogy - "Our anatomy - skeleton, musculature, skin, and other components - is the structural foundation for the body's normal functions. Our physiology - circulation, respiration, digestion, and so forth, - is the set of systems that enable uth various parts of the body to work together. In organizations as in human bodies, both the structure and the processes must be sound and reinforce one another." (p.147)
    At first I was thinking that one could liken managing to "structure" and "leading" to "systems". To extend the analogy, I'm wondering if the leader isn't actually the brain, keeping the systems and structures functioning as a cohesive and effective whole. So I think that not all managers can be leaders, but leaders need to be skillful managers in order to truly lead.
    Thanks Ben,and everyone else here, for making me think deeply about this!

  32. Hi again,
    I think that the wholistic view of management and leadership being somewhat entwined is not inaccurate.

    I find that even the most mundane management task should have a leadership framework applied to it. The discipline of a child relates to our leadership around what makes our school a safe and productive place to learn? Issues with staff or parents often come back to us looking at the common understanding (or maybe not so common) around how are we ensuring that all students are successful and will be able to be successful in our ever changing world.

    I think something that we also lose sight of in the world of management is the whole concept of hierarchy and how this applies to our leadership. It is easy to forget that as administrators we are not leaders in the traditional hierarchical sense of being above others. All people in education provide a service. We as educational leaders serve our families, our students, our teachers, our staff, school board, our communities etc. in the goal of uniting in the in our purpose to inspire and prepare learners for life in our changing world community. As administrator’s are creating the conditions (through strategic resource allocation, through professional learning, through relationship building) so that the "on air talent" - our teachers and our support staff can do their jobs so that our students can learn. That is not to imply that we are not leaders, we do develop a vision (consistent with our board plan and based on the needs of our school). However we must be both leader and supporter (servant) at the same time. For me it is not so much about what is management and what is leadership because I see it very much as "manageship" as Ben stated in his post. I look at my role as facilitator of high quality student instruction and ultimately high-level student learning.

    There is very little power (in the traditional sense) attached to the principal role...however the influence of the role is immense. How do I use that in a way that facilitates change, how do I monitor and reflect on our successes and challenges, and how do I use that data to guide future decisions? This is the lens that I put on all the decisions that I make both big and small. I always try to ask myself how will this (decision, discussion, activity etc.) move student learning forward in this building.

  33. In terms of the discussions above I have found that the question of balance between leadership and management is more easily answered if we see leadership in a wholistic way. It also takes time and experience in the role to determine what is and what is not a good use of your time.

    I have been a principal in a single admin school for 3 ½ years and I was a VP for 3 years prior to that. There are many things that I did in the past that I have eschewed for other more productive activities that I believe align with my vision of student success more completely. This list is ever evolving and changing. I think we have to allow ourselves the luxury of being able to make mistakes and learn from them. We need to be able to determine what is useful and what is not in our buildings over the things with which you have choice. Your SO is not going to be too happy if you decide that staffing is simply not something that you want to do however you can decide if you are going to spend a lot of time and energy on things that are not leading you in the direction that you feel the school should be going.
    Just like teaching practice that seems to grow unwieldy with new teaching strategies, we need to learn to purge those things in our leadership practice that no longer serve your vision and your building well.

    I have found technology to be a great help in some of the work / life balance issues. One example is report cards: I have recently gone from reading reports on a paper format to reading them electronically. Not only does this save money and the environment, I find it faster and easier and I can provide staff with more timely descriptive feedback right on the reports…a practice that I am trying to model for staff as it is a practice associated with assessment for learning.

    Balance can be a win/win. The more we learn about working smarter more this can occur. We need to share these little "gems" with our colleagues too.

  34. As I read through the posts, I was particularly interested in the discussion about discipline being seen as leadership rather than management.

    I must say that most of the VPs I speak to make a comment about having the responsibility of dealing with all of the discipline issues that arise. In some cases, they are not involved in moving things forward - Kevin called this the 'visionary aspect of leadership'. I'm glad that Jan Kielven reminded us that dealing with discipline issues is in fact leadership.

    Within all of this is the discussion about having a vision and who owns the vision. I believe in the notion of a shared vision. The P and VP need to have a shared vision that is shared and shaped with the teachers, staff, students and community. Of course, the school vision is shaped by the Board vision. If the VP has a clear understanding of the school vision - and has been part of the process in shaping this vision - then the decisions that he/she makes regarding discipline and other management 'tasks' can all be bounced against this vision. In this way, the work the VP does is vital in moving the vision forward and therefore is effective leadership. I know this is easier said than done as in some cases arriving at a shared vision may take a lot more relationship building and conversations than in others. However, I do think this can make a difference and help in the balancing of management and leadership.

    Not long ago we were talking about 'first and second order' change in our Board. To me, first order change is the 'management' while second order change is the 'leadership'. However, the two work closely together and having a clear vision helps to keep these harmonious. Decisions made in first order change can further the work done in second order change if we know where we are headed. However, focussing solely on second order change without considering the decisions that need to be made in first order change can result in a school not moving forward as quickly as hoped or anticipated. I have worked with several school leadership teams and I found that when they got 'stuck' in one or the other - we would revisit the school vision and review where it is we are headed. This reflection always helps to move the conversation forward and to find a balance between the two.

  35. @ Idilworth:
    Thanks for your comment about allowing ourselves the luxury of being able to make mistakes and learn from them. We need to be able to determine what is useful and what is not in our buildings over the things with which you have choice.

    I think this self-reflection is an important part of the process. As you stated - there are some things such as staffing that are non-negotiable but we can decide how much time and energy we spend on these.

    It's often so difficult to decide that we are going to stop doing something. Perhaps there are practices that are no longer effective or needed but we often struggle with removing something as it worked in the past. Then we just add more to our plate until it's overflowing.

    Throughout the posts there have been examples of strategies people are using to help them balance management and leadership - it's great to have a forum to share some of these ideas!

  36. This was very thought provoking and a question popped right up for me. Not one that this blog was necessarily trying to ask but nonetheless. I am looking at question number 2, “What data do you have to show that you are addressing the right problems and doing the right work?” and it makes me ponder how much time leaders spend looking for the hard evidence and data to support their decisions and is there any room for those gut decisions that you hear about? Are there times when leaders know that something needs to be done but can’t find the data that specifically identifies the need and therefore nothing is done?

    The leadership/management issue is very comparable to the art and the science of teaching. In order to be effective you need a balance, and in every situation that balance might be different. Being flexible is key.

  37. I'm connecting with the comment above made about the data that shows if programs and initiative are working in the school! Sometimes it is just a gut feeling that tells you what is needed in a certain situation or what is working or can work. Not all situations in schools and leadership can produce hard data. In my classrooms I collect data through testing and it is clear what is needed in terms of curriculum! When I am searching for a motivational activity or a social/community building activity, I can choose and apply what is needed because I am among my students, I observe, I hear, I see and then feel what will work best!
    @dave I agree that flexibility AND creativity are so important in any school community position.

  38. How often do admin receive feedback regarding their management and leadership? It is fairly straightforward to look at the processes and procedures in place at an institution from a removed location, yet far more difficult to assess the leadership practices of an individual. Establishing trusting relationships is key in order to receive the feedback (which is sometimes tough to take) that is necessary to move forward. You must use a critical eye when looking at survey or informal feedback from staff to try and weed out bias (though this is informative too) as opposed to quality information regarding leadership. Having two or three critical friends who can give an outside perspective is a helpful alternative.

  39. I think that this relationship between management and leadership will continue to be woven together but what the the weave looks like for individual leaders is going to be unique to their school's needs and the chosen priorities of the individuals involved. As previously stated, there is a need for the management decisions to be made with a vision clearly being followed. Effective leadership must be accompanied by good managerial skills.

  40. I loved the comparison between leadership and management and enjoyed reading the comments. I often consider leadership to be more visionary and lead to long term plans. For example, developing a school plan, setting direction, building relationships, creating content and professional development seem to be aligned with leadership functions.
    The manager, on the other hand, deals with day-to-day functions such as: responding to email, planning school functions, balancing budgets, prepping for a meeting etc.
    Personally, it is the leadership aspect that has always intrigued me. The managerial tasks seem to be the necessary things we have to do. Interestingly I do think that the two are inexorably linked. One cannot function without the other; they are interdependent.
    I also think that leadership arises in many forms, though some of us tend to think of leadership as hierarchical, I believe it can arise from the bottom, middle or top. Yet the term Manager is not synonymous with leadership from the bottom. Nonetheless, leadership does exist in many facets from all angles and aspects of managing do emerge from the bottom as well, though they may not be titled as such. For example, a teacher may show leadership in organizing a school event and also complete all the managerial tasks assigned to that event. In this case, he/she is a leader and a manager.

  41. I like the term Benjamin used: Managementship to show the interdependant nature of these two ideas. The original post also referenced the time that one would spend doing each task in a day. I wonder how many would spend 50-50? Personally, I am a big-picture person so my ratio would likely be: 70 leadership & 30 management. But I wonder if it isn't the other way around in the role of VP or P?