“Leader vs. Manager” Revisited

Administrators and Teacher Leaders: Does this visual look familiar to you?


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Leadership gurus such as Peter Drucker and Warren Bennis used this framework to describe the different ways an administrator drives his or her organization toward a common vision and goal. It was taught in my graduate courses as I am sure it was in yours. It was and still is a helpful way to thinking about the multiple facets of our positions.

But is it that simple? Does any school leader feel like they have two clear, distinguishable roles anymore? I don’t. The additional expectations that have become a part of our positions have both blurred and broken out of the lines between leader and manager. To think of myself as simply a leader and a manager no longer encompasses what I do every day for our students, school and community.

As I have written about my experiences as an elementary principal on my blog since November of 2011, I have noticed that my posts could be categorized into several different categories. In fact, I have tagged them as such:

  • Principal as a Thinker
  • Principal as a Learner
  • Principal as a Reader
  • Principal as a Writer
  • Principal as a Teacher
  • Principal as an Innovator
  • Principal as a Coach
  • Principal as a Collaborator
  • Principal as an Advocate
  • Principal as a Change Agent

Warren Bennis did something similar in his book On Becoming a Leader (1989). However, I have a hard time applying some of his descriptors to my position as a school principal. This way of categorizing my reflections has helped me see what I do for what it really is: A complex, ever-changing vocation that continues to reward as much as it challenges.

What would you add or revise on this list? Please share in the comments.

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