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Rethinking Educational Leadership

What Does the Future Hold?

Educational leadership has undergone significant changes over the years due to societal and educational practice shifts. The need for rethinking educational leadership has become more pressing in recent times, as education systems worldwide face significant challenges. This article will explore the need for rethinking educational leadership, the challenges faced by educational leaders, and the skills and competencies required for effective educational leadership, based on more recent research.

The Need for Rethinking Educational Leadership

Educational leadership has traditionally been hierarchical, with the principal or head teacher being the primary decision-maker. However, research suggests that the traditional top-down approach to leadership is becoming outdated in the face of the increasing complexity of educational systems (Dinham, 2019). Educational leaders need to be more adaptive and flexible to respond to changing needs, which requires a more collaborative and distributed approach to leadership (Spillane, Halverson, & Diamond, 2018).

Challenges Facing Educational Leaders

Educational leaders face a range of challenges, including balancing competing demands and priorities, navigating complex power structures, and managing change that is responsive to the needs of different stakeholders (Dinham, 2019). They must also create and maintain a positive school culture that supports the well-being and success of all students while ensuring that the school is meeting its academic goals. Additionally, leaders must work with a diverse range of students, teachers, and families and promote equity and inclusion in all aspects of school life (Mehta & Fine, 2019).

Skills and Competencies Required for Effective Educational Leadership

Effective educational leadership requires a range of skills and competencies, including:

1. Strategic thinking and planning – leaders need to be able to identify key challenges and opportunities facing their school or district and develop a clear plan for addressing them (Mehta & Fine, 2019).

2. Relationship building – leaders need to be able to build positive and productive relationships with a range of stakeholders, including students, teachers, families, and community members (Spillane et al., 2018).

3. Communication and collaboration – leaders need to be able to communicate effectively and collaborate with others to achieve shared goals (Mehta & Fine, 2019).

4. Emotional intelligence – leaders need to be able to manage their own emotions and respond to the emotions of others in a way that supports positive relationships and well-being (Dinham, 2019).

5. Cultural competence – leaders need to be able to work effectively with people from diverse cultural backgrounds and promote equity and inclusion in all aspects of school life (Mehta & Fine, 2019).


Educational leadership is essential for effective and successful schools. As educational systems evolve, the way we think about, define, and practice educational leadership must also evolve. Educational leaders must be adaptive, flexible, and collaborative to respond to changing needs. They must also possess a range of skills and competencies, including strategic thinking, relationship building, communication, emotional intelligence, and cultural competence. By rethinking educational leadership in these ways, we can ensure that our schools can meet the complex challenges of the 21st century.


Dinham, S. (2019). Educational leadership: Key challenges and ethical tensions. Journal of Educational Administration, 57(5), 548-563.

Mehta, J., & Fine, M. (2019). In search of deeper learning: The quest to remake the American high school. Harvard University Press.

Spillane, J. P., Halverson, R., & Diamond, J. B. (2018). Towards a theory of leadership practice: A distributed perspective. Journal of Curriculum Studies, 50(1), 3-20. https

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