Top 5 books for aspiring educational leaders
Who can resist a top 5 list? Well certainly not me. Here’s a top 5 list of books for aspiring leaders in education.
If you are at the stage of your teaching career, where you are considering applying for responsibility positions or leadership positions, there are far worse things you could do than round out your learning with some focused professional reading. But where to start?
This top 5 list is not exhaustive, but provides some targeted reading for aspiring leaders to help round out their knowledge and skills before jumping into a leadership role.
Let’s face it, if you want to become an educational leader, there is a fair chance that you already have a strong set of interpersonal skills. ‘The Secret’ is all about human leadership, taking those interpersonal skills you already have and using them to serve those you are leading. This book will help you to understand that the basis of all leadership is human leadership. It’s a short read written in the fable style, but still provides an excellent foundation for your leadership.
Extending from your understanding of human leadership, is your ability to lead a team. While we do it successfully every day in our classrooms (well, most days) teachers often fall short when given a team of teachers to lead. This book breaks down team dynamics, and provides a clear framework for leaders to develop highly effective teams which improve outcomes. Whilst it is set in the business world, this book has direct relevance to the world of education. If you aspire to lead a team of any sort, you should read this book first.
So you have developed your human leadership and team building skills, but what are you going to be a leader of? This collection of Elmore’s essays addresses this question directly, invoking the theory that all educational systems need to have clear standards, measurability and accountability. It makes sense when you think about it. You can have all of the leadership skills in the world, but unless you can articulate what you are leading, and measure for improvement, how do you know if you are succeeding? A more academic style read than some of the others on the list, but a must read to really get your head around educational leadership, and technical leadership.
Following on from Elmore, is John Hattie’s seminal work, which clearly articulates the practices in schools which work, and those that don’t. Every aspiring educational leader should have their head buried in their book now, because the next 20 or 30 years of educational change will be based on this groundbreaking research.
5. Tribes – Seth Godin
‘Tribes’ is a book for leaders without titles, and many of you aspiring leaders are exactly that. Most people appointed to leadership positions in schools have already displayed their leadership abilities informally, without a title or in an acting role. This book affirms the importance of leaders without titles, and also implores leaders who don’t have titles, to get on with the change now. Not to wait for the legitimacy of a promotion or wage rise, but to find their place and get on with making the change. A short, inspiring and motivating book from one of America’s most original thinkers.
Also consider a couple of other titles which aspiring leaders should consider, but didn’t make the top 5.
‘HBR’s 10 Must Reads on Managing People’ – A great collection of essays from HBR, from writers such as Daniel Goleman, Fredrick Herzberg and John Kotter, give you the basics of managing people.
‘How to win friends and influence people’ – Dale Carnegie – This nearly 100 year old book is still highly relevant today. It only didn’t make the top 5, because as a successful teacher and aspiring leader, you probably live these behaviours most of the time.