Hello arta.kato!
Copyright © 2016 Think Strategic

So you want to be a 21st Century Principal!

So you want to be a 21st Century Principal!

You’re a committed, dedicated and passionate teacher. You’ve been teaching for a while and doing a pretty good job of it too. You love making a difference in the lives of young people and you have that natural ability to inspire and motivate your colleagues to do so too.

OMG! All of a sudden you realize that you have potential. Much greater potential!

You have been so focused on bringing out the best in others for years but deep down you know that you’re ready to grow and develop into a greater, more courageous person. You remember those times when people have said to you, “Oh you have such great leadership qualities!” or “You would make a great Principal.” Maybe your inner voice keeps saying, “Come on, you know you were born to be a leader.”

You begin to wonder is it time to start forging a career as a 21st Century Principal.

Well, I’m with you on this ride. I had those same feelings in my mid-30’s and despite many setbacks and curved balls, all of which have been great lessons for me, I finally got there in 2000, in my 40’s!

I’m thrilled to admit that I have been a 21st Century Principal for almost 15 years and it has been so incredibly rewarding. Looking back, I am really pleased that I never gave up, despite tears and frustrations, because it has been one of the best decisions of my life!

So what do you need to do now?

Start preparing yourself.

Here’s how:

1. Stop and take five minutes to schedule a time over the next week or two and give yourself 1-2 hours to make a plan. Sunday mornings are often a great time to do this.

2. When your scheduled day arrives find a quiet, comfortable place on your own, grab a journal or an electronic notebook, a coffee or glass of wine and answer these ten questions:

  • What has gone well for you in your career so far?
  • List the leadership roles you have already held.
  • List those achievements of which you are most proud.
  • Why do you want to be a Principal?
  • Review your answers so far and then list what you believe are your leadership strengths?
  • What style of leadership do you want to adopt?
  • List the names of leaders that you admire.
  • Who are some Principals and Heads of School you have worked with and have appreciated the way they have led?
  • What are some leadership mistakes you have observed and you know you don’t want to emulate?
  • What would be your dream job in 2-3 years?


3. Now give yourself some time to reflect on the whole idea and come back to your answers in a week or two.

4. Reread and jot down any ideas or questions that come to your mind. Ask yourself if this is what you really want to do. If your answer is “yes” then read on.

5. Now it’s time to think strategically about creating your plan and timeline.

Plan to update your resume and include all the leadership positions you have held in the past. Think about people who could act as positive referees for you. Ask them to write letters of reference for you and give them two weeks to complete this task. It is very busy being a Principal!

6. Research current Principal positions globally and download position descriptions and check the skills, qualities and qualifications you will need to complete an application.

7. List the things you don’t know after answering no. 6 and be strategic about finding out more about them. Consider enrolling at flexible universities to undertake extra qualifications, such as an international education masters degree. Some type of Masters in Educational Leadership is well received by many Principal Search Teams, especially if you want to become involved in international school leadership or make changes into international education. Attend professional development courses or conferences focusing on leadership. Ask if you can ‘shadow’ a Principal you admire.

8. Write down the goals you want to achieve to better meet the needs of 21st Century learners. Include these in your application letter and use them as your initial goals in your new position.

9. Read Success Tips for New 21st Principals and The Top 10 Characteristics of Successful 21st Century Principals

10. Consider enlisting the support of a 21st Century Leadership Coach who you admire and trust. You will definitely encounter difficult times along with the great times.

Good luck on your exciting journey and remember you will continue to make a difference to the lives of our young generation. How wonderful is that!

Leadership for the 21st Century is a 2-day workshop designed for Principals and aspiring Principals to grow and develop their leadership capacity. Why don’t you come along or invite Maxine to your school or district.  Contact Maxine to arrange school or district bookings.


    Download our "Top 3 Challenges Facing School Leaders today" whitepaper and learn how to overcome them.