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Top 10 Traits of Successful Leaders

Top 10 Traits of Successful Leaders

Spent an amazing two days last weekend training and inspiring a new generation of 21st Century Leaders, as well as discussing school leadership standards in Bangkok at NIST International School’s Professional Learning Hub. Received great reviews too!


Participants came from all over the globe with a good cross section of Generation Y, Generation X and Baby Boomers. Educational leadership training times are truly inspiring and it was so rewarding to work with educators who are keen to take on new leadership roles or improve their leadership skills for their current leadership positions. With huge advances in technology and massive globalization it’s a challenging time for School Leaders. Is it time for you to consider some educational leadership courses?


I’ve been thinking about these amazing people all week and have decided to list the Top Ten Traits for Success to help them on their way. I hope these tips about school principal leadership qualities are useful for you too.


The Top 10 Success Traits to help you thrive as a leader in the 21st Century

  1. Honesty and Integrity – As a leader you need to know yourself and your values. Find a school that aligns with your values and then model your values and the school’s values to all in your community. Make a personal commitment to be honest with yourself and your team at all times. Be transparent. Nurture honesty and integrity in your faculty and students. If you make a mistake, admit it, take responsibility for it, resolve it and learn from it. Always uphold your word and your promises.
  2. Ability to Trust and Empower – Listen to your teachers and students. Learn their talents, interests and passions and then delegate accordingly. Empower them to take responsibility for tasks and projects. Be there to coach them and make sure you praise them for what they achieve.
  3. Communicative, Collaborative and Connected – Openly seek and share information and knowledge. Seek to be understood and to understand others. Connect with the world via blogging and social media. Collaborate with others (i.e. other school leadership teams or colleagues) virtually and face-to-face to ensure the best decisions are made. Collaboration is especially important for those in independent school leadership.
  4. Positive Energy – Always present a positive, pro-active and caring approach. Make the time to speak with students, teachers and parents. Get to know and value them by developing authentic relationships. Make sure you manage your health, well being and energy levels.
  5. Confidence – Be confident and approachable. Be visible, ask questions, value what you see and give praise for effective teaching and learning practices. As a leader you will be faced with difficult situations. In these situations, always stay calm and confident to maintain morale and confidence in the school community. Ensure your focus always returns to your strategic goals. The key objective is to keep everyone working and moving ahead.
  6. Commitment and Persistence – Displaying genuine commitment and dedication is such a motivator to your teachers and students. Make sure you create short term and long term plans based on 21st Century strategic visioning.  Be 100% committed to the achievement of the school improvement goals. Adapt when unforeseen situations occur and then persist till the important goals are achieved. Never give up!
  7. Willingness to Learn, Unlearn and Relearn – Never stop learning! The opportunities and possibilities of the 21st Century are exciting and empowering for you and your school community. Be open to it and adopt a growth mindset. Seth Godin says, “If you’re not doing the things that scare you, you’re not really learning.” Attend school leadership courses to learn about leading coaching in schools, as well as going to workshops and conferences to learn from great 21st Century leaders.
  8. Entrepreneurial, Creative and Innovative – The ability to think outside the box is powerful. Creativity and innovation are great ways to manage the disruptions and complexities of the 21st Century. Empower students and teachers to be resourceful, flexible, creative, to think like entrepreneurs and develop global partners and resources to succeed in our ever-changing world. Develop the school as an entrepreneurial organisation.
  9. Intuitive – Learn to trust your instincts. Recent research shows that we can successfully solve problems intuitively.  Listen to the voice within you; it comes from a wise and good place.
  10. Ability to Inspire – Be inspiring! Address teachers, students and parents with speeches about noble educational possibilities, highlighting the school’s vision and mission. Create an enthusiasm and optimism to work together in creating future directions for the school. Continue this focus all through your tenure.

Want to learn more?

Why not attend ‘Leadership for our New Reality a 4-part webinar series commencing 19 January 2021 to provide you with the knowledge, tools and strategies to be a great 21st Century leader? Click here for more info

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