Motivated school leaders want to be effective in their roles. To do that, they must become visionary leaders. The Wallace Foundation’s “The School Principal as Leader: Guiding Schools to Better Teaching and Learning” shows the importance of a shared vision and reinforcing it in the school.
Visionary leadership first appeared as a buzzword in the 1990s. And yet, it remains an important trait of effective leaders.
What Is Effective Visionary Leadership?
What does visionary leadership mean? “A visionary leader is clear about what he or she believes and knows is best for children — for their academic, social, and emotional learning,” writes Elena Aguilar in “What Makes a Great School Leader?” “The leader’s individual beliefs have developed in collaboration with other stakeholders and are articulated into some kind of vision or mission statement.”
Why is having a vision and a leader to enforce that vision important? First, a vision statement is a school’s goal of where it wants to be in the future. The school staff needs something to target. This provides the staff with a way to measure progress while working toward specific targets and make adjustments to improve outcomes.
Second, a vision statement gets everyone on the same page with expectations. Educators want to help students learn, earn good grades and score well on tests. Without a vision, staff may not work cohesively. A clearly understood vision that keeps everyone on the same path increases the school’s chances of achieving strong results.
When you put it all together, a visionary leader is one who develops a vision for the school and supports the staff in making it happen. A vision cannot become a reality without a leader to model the school’s beliefs and values to support that vision.
A vision benefits the school because it unites everyone to work toward a common goal. A well-developed vision leaves no room for confusion or misinterpretation. It can also be a boon for a community. “A vision that reflects the needs and purposes of the surrounding community not only improves education, it rebuilds the relationship between the school and its public,” states Larry Lashway in Education World.
How Educators Can Become Visionary Leaders
It is not enough to build a strong vision and communicate it. Leaders must create connections for the staff to support the vision.
“What we have to realize for leadership is that creating connections is the work,” writes author George Couros in “Why a Compelling Vision Is Not Enough in Leadership.” “No matter the knowledge, the accolades, the position title, administrators will not be able to lead if we do not create those connections and model the servant leadership that is so needed in our schools today.”
How do leaders establish a connection? Couros says successful school leaders share their thoughts and learn from the other people.
Creating and implementing a compelling vision takes careful planning and effort. Keeping up with current trends and research is a helpful starting point to creating that vision. A course like Visionary School Leadership offered through Northwest Missouri State University’s online program can take teachers deeper into the process.
This course guides students through the process of developing vision and mission statements. Participants learn how to bring meaningful change to enrich the school’s culture and bolster student success by working with core values, systems of support and school improvement process.
Topics like visionary leadership need real-world application to cement the new learning. Northwest’s course involves field experience to achieve that.
Have a question or concern about this article? Please contact us.