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5 Steps in Your Path to Becoming a Successful Principal

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5 Steps in Your Path to Becoming a Successful Principal

As a newly appointed principal embarking on your educational journey or a seasoned leader stepping into a new challenge, you've likely come across the crucial importance of nurturing strong connections with your staff, students, and parents. While this guidance is undeniably invaluable, the real question often centres on how and when to effectively accomplish this pivotal task. Maxwell's five steps to leadership, as demonstrated in his work “Leadership 101: What Every Leader Needs to Know”, particularly position, permission, production, people development, and pinnacle, offer profound insights that extend ways beyond the world of education. They are applicable to principals, leaders in various domains, and all people aspiring to increase their sphere of influence. When you initially meet your teaching staff, their biggest concern often revolves around your competence in your new role. Many of them bring prior experience from the school and will inevitably measure your performance against that of your predecessors and other leaders they've encountered. 

Valuable Steps to Go Through to Become an Ideal School Principal

Every principal needs to transcend through 5 critical steps to shape themselves perfectly for the role. Here are the five steps principals have to experience in the process of being a successful leader.


At the position level, individuals follow you due to your designated role as their superior, and they are duty-bound to heed your directives. Your job description outlines the positional qualities expected of you, consisting of effective public talking, exuding confidence, making well-timed and informed decisions, maintaining order and safety, and overseeing the day-to-day operations of the school. While your aura may be a compelling trait, any perceived weaknesses in your positional skills or a facade in your relationships can make the connections superficial. People may also heed your words entirely due to your stated authority.


The permission phase is where people choose to follow you and willingly collaborate. In this stage, individuals grant you the privilege of leading them. One of the most invaluable pieces of advice is to "Follow through on your commitments within the agreed-upon timeframe". Upholding your commitments is crucial; failing to achieve this can erode trust and impede your influence development. Once your staff recognises your strong abilities, they will discern your genuine care for their well-being. This shift marks the beginning of true commitment, a mutual investment in the relationship. Consequently, the relationships you cultivate are in all likelihood to be strong, enduring, and conducive to effective leadership. 


In this phase, people are motivated to follow you because they witness tangible, favourable outcomes. Principals who have reached this stage apprehend the way to yield the highest returns, master timing, excel in communication, and empower wonderful educators to become motivators for growth. They are not afraid to make tough choices that lead to wonderful outcomes. Leaders who achieve this level of influence are highly visible, and their track record of producing results regularly makes them sought-after assets in other districts or within their organisation. This progression marks the commencement of influence development from the first step once again. 

People Development

People development involves investing in the long-term vitality and prosperity of your school community. At this stage, people follow your lead because of the tremendous effect you've had on their lives. As you win hearts, a profound sense of loyalty emerges, developing enduring relationships. Principals often set up mentoring alliances during this phase, recognising the importance of nurturing the next generation of leaders.


Reaching the pinnacle of your profession elevates you to a revered position due to your character and the values you embody. This high is the culmination of years of determination and, if achieved, offers deeply satisfying and enduring rewards. As your talents enhance and your relationships flourish, positive transformations will become evident. When you reach the production stage, people will actively choose to be a part of your school community, leading to positive testimonials and accelerated morale with decreased turnover rates.


Wrapping Up

Whether you are a new principal or embarking on a leadership assignment, keep in mind that progress through the discussed stages takes time, with every level requiring more extended investment than the preceding one. Skipping steps is ill-advised. Additionally, as you gain more experience, you may interact with numerous people at different stages. New teachers, students, parents, and stakeholders will begin their journey in the initial phase, assessing the environment, adapting, and forming relationships just as you did. Skoodos, the leading school search engine with its intuitive platform, plays a vital role in assisting parents and students in finding the ideal educational institution. By bridging the gap between schools and families, Skoodos guarantees a student’s journey toward success begins with a solid foundation. From locations to boards, individuals can check for the best schools as per the categories they prioritise the most. 

Published on: 11 Dec 2023
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