“Leader vs. Manager” Revisited

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

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.

Author: Matt Renwick

Matt Renwick is an 18-year public educator who began as a 5th and 6th-grade teacher in Rudolph, WI. He now serves as an elementary principal for the Mineral Point Unified School District (http://mineralpointschools.org/). Matt also teaches online graduate courses in curriculum design and instructional leadership for the University of Wisconsin-Superior. He tweets @ReadByExample and writes for ASCD (www.ascd.org) and Lead Literacy (www.leadliteracy.com).

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