The Headmaster’s calling is a broad and exciting one because the Headmaster is leading an organization that changes the lives that will influence the future, and everything rises and falls on leadership.

I am planning multiple articles on each of the three characteristics of the effective school Headmaster as 1) visionary, 2) head teacher, and 3) CEO. These articles will culminate in a book, or manual suitable for mentoring, a major seminar or a college level course for aspiring and developing school headmasters. The conspicuous absence of works on this subject, a great desire to develop the next generation of idea and organizational leaders, and a long and successful career as a headmaster fire my drive to embark on this project. Consider that the average stay of a headmaster at an independent school is less than four years and the need for headmaster development becomes obvious. Effective educational leadership is so important that I would like to make my contribution to improving schools by improving school leadership. Hopefully sharing both ideas and real life examples from my own experience and the experience of others will make this a valuable tool that is also interesting to read.

The effective Headmaster will provide thought, and organizational leadership in three primary arenas, each of equal importance: 1) as visionary leader, 2) as head teacher, and 3) as chief executive officer. As visionary because the organizational leader needs to see where the academy is going to lead toward achievement of its highest ends. As head teacher because he (or she can be assumed throughout) runs an academy where teaching and learning great ideas is the paramount purpose, and head master by definition means head teacher, or the leader of the college of faculty. As chief executive officer, because the Headmaster is the sole report of the board of trustees responsible to fulfill academy ends, mission, or vision while assuring organizational integrity. The job description is a broad and exciting one because the Headmaster is leading an organization that changes the lives that will influence the future, and everything rises and falls on leadership.
This work called The Headmaster does not presume to be the only view one could take of this calling in the world of education. It happens that I have spent much of my career in this role and intend to share some of my ideas on the requisite characteristics needed for success and its importance to the qualitative, and quantitative development of American education. Nor do I claim to fill up all the requirements. I doubt anyone will fill the requirements fully because no individual leader can be all things to all people. Rather someone aspiring to or already laboring as a headmaster needs to develop in each of the three major categories, while recognizing personal strengths and weaknesses.
The wise leader will then surround himself (or herself) with others that fill in his weaknesses to release the greatest effectiveness for all. As the last academy I founded grew from 0 to 1,000 students in about ten years, I looked for people who were better than me at the various parts of The Headmaster’s comprehensive job. Some leaders fear to retain people more talented than themselves in some arenas. I love it because developing other leaders will contribute to a better future and working myself out of a job and moving on has always been part of the joy of life for me. I primarily looked for those that liked to operate the schools, and perform day-to-day business administration, since I thrive in the visionary, great ideas, and entrepreneurial aspects of the role and wilt when performing day-to-day functions as my primary duty. That said I know outstanding Headmasters that flourish as day-to-day leaders that have adopted the vision of an already functioning school. For that person, with different proclivities delegation would take a different form.

The Next Few Posts:
Overcoming Objections
Introducing the Headmaster as Visionary
Introducing the Headmaster as Head Teacher
Introducing the Headmaster as CEO

Rodney J. Marshall is Founder of Coram Deo Academy in Dallas/Fort Worth, President of the Marshall Education Group, and Arete Fellow with the Institute for Classical Schools. Under his leadership CDA grew from 0 to one thousand enrollees in ten years, and from no start up funds to a multimillion-dollar non-profit generating a surplus during a recession. Marshall Education Group provides innovative solutions to start, grow, and improve classical, and Christian schools through professional training, and advisory services, licensed educational products, and a free BLOG and newsletter.