The Headmaster: Visionary – Head Teacher – CEO

Article XIX: The Headmaster as Organizational Leader: The Means to Accomplishing Ends

Private schools choose to organize themselves in a myriad of ways.  The school’s stated mission or ends, size of enrollment, solvency and other factors will affect organization structure.  Some schools create extraordinarily complex organizations that bog down decision making, while others employ leaner means because they have recruited great people that can achieve at a high level when provided an environment of trust, support and freedom to act within clear boundaries.  Obviously I prefer the latter.

While advising schools, I conduct a Strategic Academy Assessment using a self-reporting tool that I will explain in a future communiqué.   Interestingly the tool reveals many strengths and weaknesses. Recently I found a school with an organizational and decision-making process that did not clarify the headmaster’s scope of authority and executive limitations.  As a result all decisions of consequence eventually devolved to the board.  In more than one case I have found that a headmaster is not allowed to change from one educational product to another without board approval.  The good-hearted people involved in these schools work hard and have many good ideas but the process of moving from idea to implementation crawls, stifling innovation.  Organizing well and empowering leadership within well-defined parameters can solve this problem and result in more growth and school improvement.

The following organizational diagram assumes an organization that has adopted a governance model that unleashes executive leadership within limitations.  As a result all means to accomplishing organizational ends fall under the purview of the headmaster.  In a small school the organization will be structured more simply.  A larger organization may have the privilege of including an academic dean or director of curriculum and instruction and other positions.  In future posts each department or job title will be briefly explained.


Upcoming Articles on The Headmaster as CEO Begin Soon:
When Chicken Little Cries, “The Sky if Falling!”
The Headmaster as Chief Financial Officer
The Strategic Academy Assessment and Action Plan
Leadership Agility
And many more

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