In response to the post, “Pursuing My First Principalship,” a reader writes:

“As I recall from the Hooker rule of thumb, the 100 to 10 to 1 ratio was dependent upon your willingness to move. Some people refuse to look no more than a pre-determined number of miles from their current home. I understand this, and have even stipulated a distance before. The reality is if you are not willing to move, your odds of finding the position you want are greatly diminished. Besides, many districts require senior administrators (principals and higher) to live inside the district.”

SC Response
Just this morning I was talking to an LYS principal who applied for his first Assistant Superintendent position, sat for an interview and was a finalist, but lost out to another candidate. He was a little dejected and miffed and I reminded him that getting an interview on the first application was a gift and that to get over himself and remember the big picture.

Early on (again Hooker) it was pointed out to me that a leadership career is like a double elimination tournament. Relatively easy to get into; just get your certification while you are teaching. But each step above teacher is significantly harder to crack, with the competition gets stiffer and the number of slots rapidly decreasing. Mess up, and you might get a second chance but don’t count on a third one. Here is the basic math.

There are 20 to 30 teacher positions for 1 assistant principal position. Luckily, most teachers don’t want to be an assistant principal so the odds are probably around 10 to 1.

There are 2 to 4 assistant principal positions for 1 principal position. Unfortunately, most AP’s want to be a principal. So there are 2 to 3 leadership candidates vying for each principalship. Of which at least 50% have more experience and better connections than you have.

There are 5 to 25 principal positions for 1 assistant superintendent position. But now the career tournament gets serious. Of those 25 principals, 5 to 10 are actively looking for a promotion and they are aggressive, ambitious and can generally make a good case that they are better than you.

There are about 4 assistant superintendent positions for 1 superintendent position. But don’t forget, there are principals, athletic directors and non-traditional candidates who are also in the hunt. This means that there are at least 4 to 6 solid candidates for each position.

From the top looking down, for each superintendent there are about 1,000 to 1,500 educators at work. And each step above teacher is not only was harder to secure, due to scarcity and the quality of the competition, but the position also brings greater risk. No matter what anyone downstream thinks, the higher the position, the easier it is to get fired (which is one reason why the pay is greater).

These facts should make two things clear to the reader. 1) There is a reason Superintendents have egos bigger than battleships. Their egos are built step by step, through years of hard work, personal risk, success and victory. 2) If you want to be a leader, you need to work at it everyday. No one owes you a position and your competition wants what you want. Plus, with every upward move, your competition is better qualified and better prepared.

Think. Work. Achieve.

Your turn…