Dr Dean Fink was in Sydney last week as part of the Leading Educators Around the Planet (LEAP) program. Fink co-authored ‘Sustainable Leadership‘ with Andy Hargreaves in 2005 and last year published ‘The Succession Challenge’.
Leadership succession is a challenge faced by schools as well as business. Fink believes succession planning is too short-term. Rather, he talks about succession management, which is committed to developing teachers over a long period. For Fink, successful succession management involves strategies such as :
- Building strong communities of professional practice
- Establishing leadership development schools
- Supporting and sponsoring aspiring leaders
- Moderating and monitoring leadership succession frequency
There are a number of issues we need to address in moving from planning to management. The first is how we develop aspiring leaders and the other is dealing with underperforming leaders. Without good leaders leading, you cannot deepen the pool of competent teachers.
In the film Waiting for Superman, the approach to dealing with under performing leaders is referred to as the Dance of the Lemons. The consequences of poor leadership on students and school communities cannot be under-played or over-stated.
I believe part of the problem is redefining the role of a school leader. What message is being conveyed if more time is spent on running schools rather than leading schools? Perhaps all schools need to employ business managers to run schools and allow leaders to focus on building teacher capabilities and thus, deepening the pool of aspiring leaders.
We know good teaching makes a difference to student learning and good leadership make a difference to teacher learning. Fink believes we need to look at how we rethink notions of leadership in the 21st century to prepare and sustain newer generations of teachers to assume ‘the mantle of educational leadership’.
A good look at Doug Reeves work on leading learning adds greatly to our thinking and understanding.