Indeed, while many schools also have values statements laying out their core beliefs and ideals, few have made their leadership philosophy part of their conscious and deliberate identity. All too often, leadership is still seen, either as a neutral tool in service of a school’s mission and vision, or as a natural extension of its values. Yet, leadership is not neutral. Far from being a mere set of techniques, it entails an entire philosophy, i.e., guiding principles regarding what is ultimately true and good. Neither is it the natural extension of a set of values, because abstract ideals can be implemented in a variety of ways.
Concretely speaking, a statement of leadership philosophy clarifies how decisions should be made and implemented by detailing ground rules, as well as the roles and responsibilities of different school actors, including students. Some of its main benefits include the following:
More generally, many issues related to leadership come from the lack of such an explicit statement. The philosophy it outlines does not provide ready-made solutions. Rather, it clarifies how problems should be tackled by specifying a school’s mode of organization, operation and cooperation. Interestingly, this leadership philosophy statement might be more descriptive of a school’s unique identity than its mission, vision, or even values, which are often quite similar in different institutions.
Pressured as they are to make quick decisions and adapt to constantly changing circumstances, it might seem that taking the time to start such work is the last thing that schools should be doing at present. However, critical times are precisely when human communities and organizations should ask fundamental questions about themselves, reflect on their past, and reinvent their future.