Do we really want Gutsy Leaders? (157:365)



I was recently sent the Hechinger Report article titled, “Wanted: More Gutsy Leaders to Drive Schools Into a Digital Age.” I found the article well-written, inspiring, and very necessary! There were some really good challenges embedded in the article. Unfortunately, as I thought about all of the aspiring educational administrators who are looking to find that “dream” job the realness of the education landscape set in. The aspiring admins get charged up while in Graduate School, or through reading about exceptional leaders who make lasting change…. Then….. what happens?


The truth is that most school districts do not want Gutsy Leaders, Digital Leaders, or even Inspirational Leaders. I have talked with aspiring administrators throughout the country who continue to be passed up for known commodities (insiders), ed reformers, or people who are the right fit (translation: the district wants the same). Honestly, most aspects of education are very traditional and it is no surprise that it hasn’t changed much over the last 100 years….. and the more important question is why? Why change?


Those districts who are succeeding on standardized assessments do not want some Gutsy Leader to come in and tip over the apple cart. It may mean a lot of extra work for both upper administration and the teachers… Those districts who are on the brink of state takeover for poor performance are looking for ed reformers to carry out the privatization/charter agenda. These districts want results, but they also want you to subscribe to their reform niche that may make an investor lots of money…. Then, there is the culture of hiring “our own.” Most districts want to take care of people who are accustomed to how things are run, and it can be extremely difficult for an “outsider” to get a chance. So it looks daunting for the Gutsy, Digital or Inspirational Leaders… But not impossible!


4 thoughts on “Do we really want Gutsy Leaders? (157:365)

  1. Oh gosh! This is one of my biggest fears! I am a fifth grade teacher, globally connected, doing global pbls with my students and trying to help shift my admin. into this new age. I am also applying to a pretty prestigious grad school into their School of Leadership. I am actually surprised at the small number of faculty in this program that are not connected educators! Who is leading who? I think that fits though, doesn’t it? We are all teachers and learners now…sometimes teacher, sometimes learner. True change can be slow and takes time. I consider this age to be like mental childbirth–painful and slow at times, but beautiful in the end and worth the wait!

    • Heidi
      Thanks so much for your comments. You made some really good points and I agree with you. I feel that the future will be much better, but as everyone says about change (especially in education) it takes time! Look for part 2 coming out today!

  2. Hey Spike – I am refreshed in my current district to see many of the people that are being hired in leadership positions have a reputation for being gutsy… thankful to be part of this district but from what I hear in the US it seems to be more about compliance for most. It is scary to see that in some districts that leadership is viewed as prescriptive… follow this script to get better results. Relationships and people are being lost in this movement. From the outside, it looks very concerning.

    • Thanks Chris. I am so glad you shared your experiences in Canada. I think the Canadian Educational System differs so much from the US, and hence the reliance on compliance. We all hope it gets better, and we challenge the notion of compliance, but it is a drop in the bucket!


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