The Principal's Most Important Job

I’m not going to tell you how to do your job.

I’m not going to tell you what your job entails.

I’m not going to try to convince you that my method is better or more effective than your method.

You’re a principal because you already know how to do your job (and everyone else’s). You know your job description. That’s why you felt up to the challenge in the first place. And, believe it or not, you and I have the same method. My method is your method.

My purpose here is to simply remind you of what you already think and believe, and to highlight some of the things that may have motivated you to take this seemingly impossible job in the first place. You already know that the principal is the caster of the vision while the teacher is the one who executes. If teaching were a restaurant, the principal would be the manager and the teacher would be a server. If it were the military, the principal would be George Patton and the teacher would be Omar Bradley. If the game of basketball, the principal would be Phil Jackson and the teacher would be Michael Jordan.

The comparison is appropriate because as the principal you need to be able to step into any class, any duty, any room at any time and fill in for whomever is not there. You’re the coach, but you have to be able to play, too. (Incidentally, Phil Jackson was a player in the NBA before he was a coach.) With that in mind, may I remind you that your most important duty is to empower your teachers.

Have you ever worked for someone who did not provide you with the tools necessary to do the very job they were asking you to do? There is perhaps nothing more frustrating for a professional wanting to get the job done at a high level. And it’s even worse when that boss, that manager, that “leader” later blames you when the job isn’t done right! And all you want to say is, “Excuse me Mr. So-and-So, but I would have done it if you had given me x, y, and z! But you didn’t give it to me, so how did you expect me to do the job? I could’ve done it too! I could’ve done it better than you’ve ever seen it done before!”

Ok, that’s petty. Maybe that’s not your reaction. But you get my point. The truth is, because you’re a professional, the real problem isn’t that the boss didn’t empower you; that’s just a cause, albeit a legitimate one, of the effect, which is what we really care about. The real frustration comes from the fact that the job didn’t get done, which is what we really want. As professionals, we want to do the job, and it creates immeasurable dissatisfaction when that fact that we didn’t get it done really, truly is not our fault.

Because if it was our fault, we could have prevented it. Or we would just fix it and never let it happen again.

So we got into leadership to make sure it never happens again. Over the next 5 blog posts, I will remind you how to never let it happen again. Keep reading!