In response to the post, “A Fatal Flaw,” a reader writes:
“There has to be a balance with faculty. I have had a hard time with this balance, in part due to the fact that I have a habit of taking over schools that are in a ditch, in which the problem is usually due to adults. Having said that, I am reminded of Stephen Covey. Covey says you can make people work, but they volunteer their best contributions. What I now attempt to do is to never negotiate on best practices, but on the other hand I try to be one with my faculty, without being one of them. Celebrate success, share moments of joy, and moments of pain. Suggested reading: Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, by Stephen Covey. It is an older publication, but the principles in the book are time enduring.”
I want to elaborate on my original premise. That being that principals must be loyal to their students first, staff second. The problem with my comment is that as Michael Fullan points out in his writing, it is ripe with hidden nuance. The statement is meant to be a proverb, to be used as a tool. But like any tool, if it is used incorrectly, it can cause more damage than benefit.
Loyalty is not always an “us-versus-them” proposition. You can be loyal to both sides. However, in the role of principal, if you don’t advocate for your students, no-one else will. And sometimes what is best for your staff, isn’t what is easiest for your staff. Doing what is right for students and working to get better, are not the comfortable paths.
What the principal I discussed in my original post appears to be doing is working to create a staff that is loyal to him, due to his ability to dole out favors and protect them from change.
To sum up, the principal that is loyal to students and pointlessly antagonistic to staff is not fulfilling the leadership requirements of the position. The principal that is loyal to students and positions and equips staff to maximize their effectiveness will have a campus that can achieve great things.
Think. Work. Achieve.