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Ten Traits of Highly Effective Principals

Ten Traits of Highly Effective Principals
From Good to Great Performance

July 2003 | 312 pages | Corwin
`I could hear the voices of some of the principals who were interviewed speaking to me. The author clearly knows how to gather information and present it in a meaningful way' - Bonnie Tryon, Zone 2 Director, National Association of Elementary School Principals

Highly effective headteachers have strong communication skills, high levels of knowledge about teaching and learning, and the ability to provide instructional leadership. This excellent, new resource provides headteachers, senior management teams and teachers with the resources to hone these skills and traits.

Ten Traits of Highly Effective Principals contains ideas, reflections, behaviours, habits and stories from the trenches to guide and inspire as you seek to increase your own effectiveness. Each chapter in this resource describes an essential component of personal effectiveness. A highly effective headteacher is:

A communicator—listen, empathize, and connect

An educator—with a depth of knowledge; motivates intellectual growth

An envisioner—focused on the vision of what schools can be

A facilitator—building strong relationships

A change master—flexible, futuristic, and realistic, and can motivate change

A culture builder—communicating and modeling a strong, viable vision

An activator—with motivation, energy, and enthusiasm to spare

A producer— building intellectual development and academic achievement

A character builder—whose values are trustworthiness, respect, and integrity

A contributor—whose priority is making contributions to the success of others

Transform your school into a community of learners, set high academic and behavioural expectations, and create a culture where children feel special and safe.

Who This Book Is For

Overview of the Contents


A Matter of Defintion

The Origin of the Ten Traits

The Ten Traits of Highly Effective Principals

Chapter 1: The Communicator

Chapter 2: The Educator

Chapter 3: The Envisioner

Chapter 4: The Facilitator

Chapter 5: The Change Master

Chapter 6: The Culture Builder

Chapter 7: The Activator

Chapter 8: The Producer

Chapter 9: The Character Builder

Chapter 10: The Contributor

About the Author
1. The Communicator
Communicator Exemplar: Michelle Gayle

Communicator Benchmarks

1.1 Communicators Attend

1.2 Communicators Listen

1.3 Communicators Empathize

1.4 Communicators Disclose Themselves to Others

1.5 Communicators Get the Whole Story

1.6 Communicators Ask the Right Questions

1.7 Communicators Say What They Mean and Mean What They Say

1.8 Communicators Can Acceptn Criticism

1.9 Communicators Can Give Correction

1.10 Communicators Communicate Creatively

1.11 Communicators Disagree Agreeably

1.12 Communicators Pay Attention to Parents

1.13 Communicators Connect Emotionally and Professionally With Staff

1.14 Communicators Communicate With Students

1.15 Communicators Can Talk to the Boss

1.16 Communicators Connect in Productive, Helping, and Healing Ways

1.17 Communicators Care Enough to Send the Very Best

1.18 Communicators Know How to Schmooze

1.19 Communicators Write, Speak, and Teach

Summing It Up

2. The Educator
Educator Exemplar

Jean Hendrickson, Elementary

Educator Exemplar: Alan Jones, High School

Educator Benchmarks

2.1 Educator Principals Believe That All Students Can Learn, and They Develop Programs to Help Them Succeed

2.2 Educator Principals Provide Training and Support for Teachers

2.3 Educator Principals Create Cognitive Dissonance

2.4 Educator Principals Establish, Implement, and Achieve Academic Standards

2.5 Educator Principals Focus on Instruction

2.6 Educator Principals Model Continuous Learning

2.7 Educator Principals Develop Teacher Leaders

2.8 Educator Principals Pay Attention to What Matters Most

2.9 Educator Principals Create Learning Communities

Summing It Up

3. The Envisioner
Envisioner Exemplar: Larry Fieber

Envisioner Benchmarks

3.1 Envisioners Are Hedgehogs

3.2 Envisioners Feel Called

3.3 Envisioners Have Resolve, Goals, and Lifevision

3.4 Envisioners Can See the Invisible

3.5 Envisioners Know Where They Are Headed

3.6 Envisioners Have Compelling Visions

3.7 Envisioners Can Articulate Their Visions and Then Make Them Happen

Summing It Up

4. The Facilitator
Facilitator Exemplar: Doug Pierson

Facilitator Benchmarks

4.1 Facilitator Principals Bond People Into a Community of Leaders

4.2 Facilitator Principals Tap the Potential of People

4.3 Facilitator Principals Say "We" Instead of "I"

4.4 Facilitator Principals Favor People Over Paperwork

4.5 Facilitator Principals Build Up Emotional Bank Accounts

4.6 Facilitator Principals Cultivate Their Own Well-Being

4.7 Facilitator Principals Value Diversity

4.8 Facilitator Principals Share the "Power Pie"

4.9 Facilitator Principals Accentuate the Positives

4.10 Facilitator Principals Promote Parental Involvement

4.11 Facilitator Principals Celebrate

4.12 Facilitator Principals Spend Time With Students

Summing It Up

5. The Change Master
Change Master Exemplar: Marjorie Thompson

Change Master Benchmarks

5.1 Change Masters Can Handle Uncertainty and Ambiguity

5.2 Change Masters Respect Resisters

5.3 Change Masters Are Futuristic

5.4 Change Masters Use a Situational Approach

5.5 Change Masters Know That the Power Is Within

5.6 Change Masters Value the Process

5.7 Change Masters Plan for Short-Term Victories

5.8 Change Masters Procure Resources

5.9 Change Masters Trust Their Teams

5.10 Change Masters Are Willing to Change Themselves

5.11 Change Masters Are Motivators

5.12 Change Masters Understand the Change Process

Summing It Up

6. The Culture Builder
Culture Builder Exemplar: Gabe Flicker

Culture Builder Benchmarks

6.1 Culture Builders Understand and Appreciate the Power of Culture

6.2 Culture Builders Know What a Good Culture Looks Like

6.3 Culture Builders Facilitate the Development of Core Values

6.4 Culture Builders Communicate These Values Clearly

6.5 Culture Builders Reward and Cheer Those Who Support and Enhance the Culture

6.6 Culture Builders Build Cultures That People Choose

6.7 Culture Builders Know the Small Stuff Is Really the Big Stuff

Summing It Up

7. The Activator
Activator Exemplar: Clare Maguire

Activator Exemplar: Todd White

Activator Benchmarks

7.1 Activators Mobilize People

7.2 Activators Are Entrepreneurial

7.3 Activators Don't Wait to Be Told

7.4 Activators Are Risk Takers

7.5 Activators Ask for Forgiveness Rather Than Permission

7.6 Activators Run to Daylight

7.7 Activators Don't Micromanage

7.8 Activators Make Things Happen

7.9 Activators Are Outrageous

7.10 Activators Are Cheerleaders

Summing It Up

8. The Producer
Producer Exemplar: Dale Skinner

Producer Benchmarks

8.1 Producers Believe That Achievement Is the Bottom Line

8.2 Producers Never Mistake Activity for Achievement

8.3 Producers Are Data Driven

8.4 Producers Pay Attention to Individual Students

8.5 Producers Have Academically Focused Missions

8.6 Producers Make Research-Based Decisions

8.7 Producers Hold Teachers Accountable

Summing It Up

9. The Character Builder
Character Builder Examplar: Tom Paulsen

Character Builder Benchmarks

9.1 Character Builders Are Human

9.2 Character Builders Are Trustworthy

9.3 Character Builders Have Integrity

9.4 Character Builders Are Authentic

9.5 Character Builders Are Respectful

9.6 Character Buliders Are Generous

9.7 Character Builders Are Humble

9.8 Character Builders Hire Staff Members With Character

9.9 Character Builders Are Consistent

9.10 Character Builders Lead by Example, Not by Exhortation

9.11 Character Builders Seek to Develop the Character of Students

Summing It Up

10. The Contributor
Contributor Exemplar: Lola Malone

Contributor Benchmarks

10.1 Contributors Lead by Serving Others

10.2 Contributors Are Self-Aware and Reflective

10.3 Contributors Are Good Stewards

10.4 Contributors Have Strong Wills

Summing It Up

Professional Conclusions

How Can You Use This Book

Resource A: List of Contributing Highly Effective Principals
Resource B: Ten Traits of Highly Effective Principals
Resource C: Complete List of Benchmarks
Facilitators Guide
Who Should Use This Guide?

How Is the Guide Organized?

What Materials Are Needed?

Study Modules



This is a powerful guidebook for new principals. More than that, it also contains valuable insight and examples to assist veteran principals in growing and improving professionally.

Kimberly Kay Janisch, Principal
Watertown High School, Watertown, SD

I feel that this is a book principals will be interested in purchasing and reading. It has practical advice and relevant examples of how the advice can and has been implemented.

Phillip Silsby, Principal
Belleville West High School, Belleville, IL

I could hear the voices of some of the principals who were interviewed speaking to me. The author clearly knows how to gather information and present it in a meaningful way.

Bonnie Tryon, Zone 2 Director
National Association of Elementary School Principals

It is a valuable resource, a must-read, for current and prospective principals who wish to become exemplars in school leadership and management.

Flordeliza Reyes, Educational Leadership and Management Department
De La Salle University, Manila, Philippines

The usefulness of this book clearly lies in the author's treatment of the traits and in the resource guide and facilitator's guide at the end. The content is rich with stimulating ideas that would inspire even the most seasoned administrator.

The School Administrator, March 2004

10 Traits of Highly Effective Principals is a 'must-read' for any practitioner or aspiring principal needing direction, mental stimulation, or self-renewal.

Principal Magazine, March/April 2004

"In all of the books I have read, this is far and away the best. Finally, a book where someone gets it! And wrapping up the book with a discussion of servant leadership is brilliant. I put these books in the hands of all of our principals, and each month at our district admin meetings, one of us presents on a chapter and opens it up for discussion. Everyone loves it and is on board. I have always been proud of the culture of our school, but this book is really helping all of us get on the same page and get the true purpose of our daily lives in education."

Brent M. Hodges, Assistant Headmaster
Rancho Solano Private Schools, AZ

Sample Materials & Chapters


Chapter 1: The Communicator

For instructors

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ISBN: 9780761946199