Framework for 21st Century School Leadership

Reading through Google Reader, I encountered a post that really interested me. The post, by Chris Kennedy, proposes a framework for leadership today. I find that many of our current ideas of leadership are rooted almost exclusively in the past. As a result, we have a lot of status quo leaders in our schools. Chris suggests using the framework to guide self-reflection.

Here is the link to the graphic shared on his blog post. And here is the breakdown of the framework.


  • Engages others actively in co-defining the path to change
  • Proactively builds strong relationships with peers and others
  • Manages conflict and reconciles differences


  • Develops a sense of urgency to stimulate action for transformation
  • Communicates a clear and compelling sense of direction
  • Generates enthusiasm and commitment in others


  • Maintains energy in driving the transformation process
  • Sustains active engagement, and stays the course in the transformation process
  • Calibrates the pace of transformation efforts to ensure progress

Confident and Courageous

  • Believes they can make a difference as a leader
  • Provides a forthright and accurate assessment of their own skills and abilities
  • Challenges the status quo, even when it is personally risky to do so


  • Manages their emotions in difficult situations
  • Places problems and challenges into proper perspective
  • Recovers rapidly after setbacks

Outward Facing

  • Eager to learn and be exposed to new ideas
  • Models tolerance, curiosity and inquiry
  • Actively seeks out connections, resources and partnerships to support transformation efforts

Politically Astute

  • Analyzes the motives and interests of constituencies and stakeholders
  • Matches influence strategies for the circumstances and constituency
  • Builds alliances and coalitions with individuals, groups and organization

Systems Thinker

  • Sees connections between and among systems and sub-systems
  • Conceptualizes trends, patterns and issues across boundaries
  • Demonstrates tolerance of ambiguity and uncertainty during the transformation process

Technologically Literate

  • Effectively uses technology and a variety of social media to promote transformation
  • Understands how to communicate and lead in a hyper-connected world
  • Leverages creative approaches and designs using technology support

Each part of the framework is complex unto itself. Connect the different parts (they aren’t silos), and you begin to see just how challenging it is to be an effective leader. In a quick Google search, I wasn’t able to locate any other information about the framework – how it was developed, research base, etc. Would things change if more of our status-quo leaders expanded their frame of leadership and education? It certainly is a thought-provoking lens through which to examine school leadership. Glad I stumble across this.


One comment on “Framework for 21st Century School Leadership

  1. Pingback: Change, Innovation and Leadership | Working at the edge

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