5 Traits of the 21st Century Administrator

What do you believe are the traits needed by an administrator in the 21st century?  I have outlined five of the traits I have found most useful in considering administration in this new educational world. At the end of this post, I have included a PDF version of these traits for you to download and print off if you’d like. Share as you’d like.

The 21st Century Administrator is…

An Active Listener – If there is one thing that social media has taught us, and continues to teach us, it’s that everyone wants a voice. Focus and listen so deeply during conversations that your partner knows every word is being absorbed and processed. It is through deep listening that we get to the heart of concerns and attend to the real issues at hand. Too often we find ourselves having superficial conversations day-to-day, saying ‘hi’ or ‘how’s it going?’ in the hallways. This is not bad in itself, but if these conversations are the only ones we have with our peers for any length of time, we miss important personal connections.

A Connected Leader – Administrators have the ability to connect with many others in education when and where necessary. We do not live in a vacuum in education; if you want to be connected, you can be. This applies to the connections you forge within your own building, but also includes supports from your central or divisional office. These relationships must be cultivated as well, so that anyone from your community that needs support can rely on your connections and abilities to connect to them. This does not mean I am advocating for all teachers to work through you, but rather that in their work, you always have the ability to offer support. In our digital world, there are many connections to be forged through digital media, and I’ve seen many proactive leaders forging those connections to support their work.

An Authentic Conversationalist – Effective leaders know how to have the encouraging conversations, and behaviour changing conversations. We are in great danger of loosing momentum and gains if we as educational leaders do not at times engage in those crucial conversations to bring teachers ‘on board’ with what is going on in the school. While I realize contractual obligations prevent certain discussions, we can go a long way by forging strong relationships where these teachers respect our perspectives as well.

Inspirational and Empowering – Empower teachers to be able to do great things. As leaders we are the enablers of the teaching and learning we want to see happen. Take as many roadblocks out of the way as you can for teachers doing great things, and let them fly. Often, once they have a taste of the kind of teacher they can be, they will start breaking down their own walls. In addition to empowering others, leaders that have solid beliefs about education and create strong vision statements and craft a school culture around them, are the leaders that people flock to because they make a difference in the lives of students. If you are such a leader, share your experiences and skills with others!

A 21st Century Learning Specialist – I know the difficulties some educators have with technology, that is not going to go away. I like the old saying, “Use your strengths and manage your weaknesses.” Educational Leaders that are well versed in the traits of the 21st Century Learner can attract and maintain those who are skilled in technology implementation and collaborative learning. While I see immense value in maintaining these skills for myself, those who don’t can still be focused on what they want to see happen in schools and put the right people in positions to be able to achieve it.

What do you think of these traits?  Do they fit with your vision of educational leadership in the 21st Century?

Click to access 21st-century-administrator-r11.pdf


One thought on “5 Traits of the 21st Century Administrator

  1. Great ideas and description Derek! I believe these are all qualities of 21st century administrators. One thing I think is important and is often overlooked (but not missing) is an ability to support teachers. Building capacity is important for schools and is a key factor for administration, but it is just as important for admin to recognize a struggling teacher or a ‘slow adapter’ if you will.

    Great thoughts!

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