"Greatness is not a function of circumstance. Greatness, it turns out, is largely a matter of conscious choice and discipline." -Jim Collins, author, From Good to Great

What makes a leader great? Why are some schools or organizations so successful while others fail to make a difference? Educational organizations can make a long-term impact and demonstrate sustained growth by implementing just a few of the fundamental principles that Jim Collins writes about in his book From Good to Great.

Collins studied more than 1,400 companies and discovered that, while most were good, only 11 were great. The one thing that all 11 of the great companies had in common was a “Level 5” leader at the helm of the ship. Surprisingly, a Level 5 leader is not the larger-than-life, personality type but someone who has the perfect combination of fierce tenacity, professionalism and the right dose of humility. These leaders credit others for their successes and channel their ambition into the organization.

So, what does it take to be a Level 5 educational leader? Collins believes that leaders need to focus on the “who” before the “what.” Successful administrators understand the importance of having the right people in the right positions. Different people have different skill sets. Develop leadership in others by noticing and complimenting the obvious ways they shine! In children and youth, set up opportunities through activities, clubs and leadership roles to develop their skills and talents. Nurture their talents and encourage them to use their strengths.

Create a culture of continual improvement. For children and youth, ask for input to build their sense of shared ownership. This will build community, show that their input is valued and make changes that ensure quality. Build a fluid environment and climate that is open to change and improvement.

Show humility. Be available to others. Show interest and seek new and creative ideas. Share leadership with others. Work to maintain a level of respect for others’ talents, successes and ideas, and model a collaborative mindset.

True leadership skills take time and effort to build. Start today with students and staff. The results and rewards will be amazing.