One of the first things that great leaders do is lead the development of a clear vision for their school. They use vision and strategy to engage their people and create the momentum required to propel the school forward. The vision is what needs to be achieved and the strategy is how it will be done.
According to Pich and Messenger in Leadership Matters: 7 Skills of Very Successful Leaders, what differentiates great leaders from other leaders is that the great leaders go one step further. They define the glue that will make everything possible: culture.
Culture in its simplest form is ‘the way things get done around here’. Great leaders manage culture because they know it matters.
Nothing beats Culture! Culture trumps your school’s programs. Culture trumps your strategic plan. Culture even trumps the competency of your team. (Vanderbloemen, 2018)
Culture wins every time. If you have a bad culture, it will win – and ruin your school.
If you have a great culture, it will also win and enable you to do great things.
The existing culture has a huge impact on staff. It impacts on how they behave, how they interact with co-workers, how happy and engaged they are at school, how they interact with students, how much discretionary effort is put in and how much gets done. The influence of culture can be positive and fulfilling or negative and deflating.
By tolerating the behaviours we don’t want to see, what we are actually doing is reinforcing them. They become the norm and once they are established it is difficult to change them. By choosing to ignore some behaviours, we create an environment that will make success a lot harder.
To gain a deeper understanding of culture and the impact of leadership, I’d highly recommend reading Leadership Matters: 7 Skills of Very Successful Leaders by David Pich and Ann Messenger.