In Frederick Hess’ book Cage-Busting Leadership he says “Cage -busting leaders are ready to be R-rated. They’re poker players- not tough guys- but they know this is tough work. They’re not worried about whether everyone is going to like them. They avoid unnecessary fights, remember every battle is won before it’s fought, and constantly seek the smartest way to solve a problem- and they’re in this for keeps.”
To be a truly impactful transformative leader in today’s schools is arguably tougher today than it has ever been. The stakes, accountability, scrutiny and little opportunities for “misfires” make being a school leader a uncertain endeavor. Also, now more than ever, our students need “Cage-Busting” leaders as their teachers, principals, superintendents and Board members. Success is a blend of courage, knowledge, intuition, planning, data and luck. This endeavor is not for the faint of heart or the egotist rather, it must be approached with a servant’s heart.
These leaders know the greatest factor working against them is a century old industry pressure to maintain status quo. Change is innately seen as a threat avoided or rallied against feverously. Leaders who truly get it understand schools lag behind the rate of change required just to keep up with the world outside of the school building.
Success will likely not be immediately measured. Success will be measured in the attitudes and aptitudes of our students and staff to be confident and skilled in embracing change. Without risk there will likely be no reward and battle scars will be earned in the process but transformative leadership will prepare our students for success.