Opinion
Education Opinion

Innovation Leadership

By Tom Vander Ark — May 09, 2014 4 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

By: Lyle Kirtman

America is a country that has flourished based on innovation. The worlds of medicine, private industry, and nonprofits are now embracing innovation as a
key to solving age-old problems. Unfortunately, the policy makers in education are creating an environment where leaders in the areas of greatest need—our
cities—are being left behind.

Can a leader in education be innovative, get results, and stay alive in their job in today’s public education world of compliance and accountability? Yes,
but it takes courage, commitment and focus! Our attention nationally has shifted to hiring and developing instructional leaders in order to ensure that the
focus is clear on improving student achievement. The premise is that if all our leaders in education concentrate on the classroom we will finally
straighten out the educational problems that have existed for many years.

We have once again focused too narrowly on symptomatic solutions. Yes, instruction is key to improving student achievement. However, our educational
leaders need to broaden, not narrow, their leadership competencies to be successful in today’s world. Other sectors are emphasizing innovation, external
partnerships and customer service. Is education that different that the focus needs to be so internal? I propose that we realize that the true
instructional leaders are our teachers and we broaden the concept of leadership to improve our school districts and schools. Innovation and leadership have
been separate terms for years as were instruction and leadership. If we broadened our viewpoint and begin hiring innovative leaders that are focused on
sustainable results for customers (students), we would transform our educational system.

I have found in my research of 1000 leaders in education nationally that we have already begun to transform our cultures slowly. In fact, our most
successful leaders have a broad base of skills and competencies. Yes, they realize the importance of instruction and are skilled at developing teacher
leaders who inform decision making and create innovative opportunities for students. These high performing leaders embrace innovation and have the
curiosity to learn from their teachers, colleagues, leaders in education and even other sectors about building truly creative learning environments for
staff and students.

Unfortunately, too many of these high performing leaders are in our suburban districts. While there is great potential for innovative leaders to emerge in
rural and urban districts they are often discouraged by the national obsession for accountability and compliance as the key to improving student
achievement. They feel they can’t be innovative because their schools and districts are being declared under-performing and must focus on meeting state and
federal requirements to survive, leaving no room or time to transform their cultures into exciting and innovative places for true sustainable learning.

The policy makers seem to think that leaders in urban districts can’t be trusted to find new ways to improve student achievement. They are wrong! The best
leaders are the ones who are not afraid to try new ways to get results. In fact, these great leaders even reach out to both public and private sector
partners to increase their bandwidth to include new opportunities for the students in their districts.

The following are 7 Competencies that will help produce innovative leaders that build creative, sustainable learning environments with high expectations
and great results for students.

Seven Competencies for High Performing Leaders in Education:

1. Challenges the Status Quo

2. Builds Trust through Clear Communication and Expectations

3. Creates a Commonly Owned Plan for Success

4. Focuses on Team over Self

5. Has a High Sense of Urgency for Change and Sustainable Results in Improving Achievement

6. Commitment to Continuous Improvement for Self and Organization

7. Builds External Networks and Partnerships

Let’s change our focus now before it is too late and hire and develop leaders who can motivate our students and staff to achieving great results!

The
Smart Cities
blog series catalogs innovations in learning in America’s great cities. We’re writing a book about what we’re learning--
and you can help.


Lyle Kirtman
, CEO Future Management Systems, has consulted with 700 organizations on leadership development in the public and private sector (300 school
districts). He served as the Chairperson of the Governor’s Task Force on Innovation in Mass. Lyle’s recent book entitled; Leadership and Teams: The
Missing Piece of the Educational Reform Puzzle (Pearson Publishing) has been the basis of his presentations and consulting nationally. He is now
co-authoring a new book on Leadership with internationally renowned author and speaker Michael Fullan.

The opinions expressed in Vander Ark on Innovation are strictly those of the author(s) and do not reflect the opinions or endorsement of Editorial Projects in Education, or any of its publications.


Commenting has been disabled on edweek.org effective Sept. 8. Please visit our FAQ section for more details. To get in touch with us visit our contact page, follow us on social media, or submit a Letter to the Editor.


Events

This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Teaching Webinar
6 Key Trends in Teaching and Learning
As we enter the third school year affected by the pandemic—and a return to the classroom for many—we come better prepared, but questions remain. How will the last year impact teaching and learning this school
Content provided by Instructure
Teaching Profession Live Online Discussion What Have We Learned From Teachers During the Pandemic?
University of California, Santa Cruz, researcher Lora Bartlett and her colleagues spent months studying how the pandemic affected classroom teachers. We will discuss the takeaways from her research not only for teachers, but also for
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Student Well-Being Webinar
Trauma-Informed Practices & the Construction of the Deep Reading Brain
Join Ryan Lee-James, Ph.D. CCC-SLP, director of the Rollins Center for Language and Literacy, with Renée Boynton-Jarrett, MD, ScD., Vital Village Community Engagement Network; Neena McConnico, Ph.D, LMHC, Child Witness to Violence Project; and Sondra
Content provided by Rollins Center

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

Education Hundreds of Conn. Bus Drivers Threaten to Walk Off the Job Over Vaccine Mandate
More than 200 school bus drivers could walk off the job in response to a vaccination mandate that goes into effect Monday.
1 min read
Rows of school buses are parked at their terminal, in Zelienople, Pa. Reopening schools during the coronavirus pandemic means putting children on school buses, and districts are working on plans to limit the risk.
Rows of school buses are parked at their terminal, in Zelienople, Pa. Reopening schools during the coronavirus pandemic means putting children on school buses, and districts are working on plans to limit the risk. <br/>
Keith Srakocic/AP Photo
Education Briefly Stated: September 22, 2021
Here's a look at some recent Education Week articles you may have missed.
9 min read
Education Schools Get the Brunt of Latest COVID Wave in South Carolina
In the past few weeks, South Carolina has set records for COVID-19 hospitalizations and new cases have approached peak levels of last winter.
4 min read
Two Camden Elementary School students in masks listen as South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster talks about steps the school is taking to fight COVID-19, Wednesday, Sept. 15, 2021, in Camden, S.C. McMaster has adamantly and repeatedly come out against requiring masks in schools even as the average number of daily COVID-19 cases in the state has risen since early June. (AP Photo/Jeffrey Collins)
Education More States Are Requiring Schools to Teach Native American History and Culture
Advocates say their efforts have gained some momentum with the nation’s reckoning over racial injustice since the killing of George Floyd.
3 min read
A dancer participates in an intertribal dance at Schemitzun on the Mashantucket Pequot Reservation in Mashantucket, Conn., Saturday, Aug. 28, 2021. Connecticut and a handful of other states have recently decided to mandate students be taught about Native American culture and history. (AP Photo/Jessica Hill)