Leadership and Excellence

Schools and districts are complex organizations. On the surface, most schools and districts operationally appear very similar but upon further examination, they are very different. Often, the internal dynamics of the organization, known as its culture, drives its outcomes.  A school or district’s decision making, prioritization of goals, the formulation of strategic plans and the effective execution of those goals/plans are a function of the organization’s internal beliefs, structures, processes, and its leadership.

Adept leadership recognizes the importance of a school/ district’s culture and relational dynamics within it as a critical factor in the success or failure of its mission. A school or district’s ability to grow, to improve and meet its challenges are a function of the leader’s skill to navigate a vision through a gauntlet of stakeholders and layers of an organization. Building a consensus to change the existing status quo is fundamental to an organization’s growth.

Having an understanding of the key elements that directly impact performance and by adhering to an improvement process that capitalizes on building internal capacity and investing in collaborative leadership strategies, leaders increase their ability to shift an organization’s internal dynamics to one of continuous improvement. Armed with data derived from assessment tools that highlight the disconnections involving Alignment, Atmosphere, Accountability, and Administrative perception, leaders can laser focus on internal systemic issues that are impeding achievement.

When identified disconnections are combined with a process that creates a sense of urgency, builds consensus among stakeholders and collaboratively develops priorities, a pathway that leads to sustainable improvement is illuminated and higher performance becomes a reality.

Authors: Dr. Vincent F. Cotter and Dr. Robert D. Hassler are co-founders of the Exemplary Schools Organization.

Both authors are former superintendents with a career that focused on improving student achievement and building an atmosphere of continuous improvement.

Publications: “Igniting School Performance: A Pathway from Academic Paralysis to Excellence” (2019).

“Performance is Key: Connecting the Links to Leadership and Excellence” (2017).

Publisher—Rowman and Littlefield

Website: Exemplary Schools Organization

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