Core Qualities of Effective Educational Managers

Education as a multi-faceted formal or informal process, as a biological, sociological, spiritual and psychological necessity has been a constant dimension of humanity since time immemorial. An etymological meaning promoted by western thinkers states that education is a combination of 2 words, “E” and “DUCO”. “E” means “out of” and “duco” means “to lead”, consequently education means to draw out rather than to put in. According to this meaning, the educator helps the child to develop his inner potentialities and, if we extrapolate, educational leaders empower their colleagues( “As we look ahead into the 21st century, leaders will be those who empower others”. – Bill Gates ) and create learning and teaching environments conducive to performance.

“Education is the most important weapon which you can use to change the world.” Nelson Mandela

The origin of the development of educational management as a field of study began in the United States in the early part of the twentieth century, derived from the management principles first applied to industry and commerce, whose ideas were later drawn from concepts and structures developed in social sciences disciplines. It is a field of study and practice concerned with the operation of educational organisations, which are places which provide a large variety of learning environments and learning spaces, where people of different ages gain an education, knowledge and skills and impart values, feelings and attitudes. Educational management is the process of controlling, planning, organising, controlling and and directing both human and material resources in an educational institution, it is the function that coordinates the efforts of people ( teachers, students, parents, the community) to accomplish goals and objectives using available resources efficiently, it is a science, an established field domain with its own theories and research but also an art.

In our fast-paced world fraught with problems and conflicts, which also offers a wide array of challenges and opportunities, where competition is a key-word, there is a definite need for excellent educational managers. They are in charge of achieving the institution’s objectives by planning, organising and implementing its activity in different sectors and by making the best use of human resources and of the infrastructure. This is likely to result in enhancing and maintaining a positive public image of the institution and in building a strong relationship with the community. While it is commonly agreed that a principal’s main responsibilities are planning (setting objectives and determining the best course of action to accomplish them), organising (structuring and assigning tasks, integration and coordination of individual efforts so as to achieve goals), leading (instructing, guiding and inspiring people), staffing and controlling (regulation of operation according to the goals specified in plans and strategies), a good educational leader should possess a wide range of qualities enabling him to succeed. Patriotically, I have chosen the name of our country – ROMANIA – as an acronymic sequence of core qualities of remarkable educational managers:



A good educational manager should be resourceful and open to new ideas and also able to use human and material resources efficiently. In a school human resources comprise the entire teaching staff, secretaries, clerks, librarians, laboratory assistants, students, parents, members of the community, departmental officials, their skills, knowledge and experience. Consequently, the management of human resources is crucial, involving the selection, recruitment, appointment, development of the personnel in order to achieve the educational goals.

The good management of material resources (buildings, laboratories, libraries, equipment, furniture, teaching materials, gyms, playgrounds) should be a top priority for Romanian educational managers as the funds alloted to educational institutions are limited. Therefore, physical resources used in our schools should have flexibility and adaptability and be used wisely, efficiently and economically. The third kind of resources is ideational resources, which are based on ideals and ideas, on cultural heritage, tradition and public image. It is the educational leader’s responsibility to develop the personality and the ideals of their school, to promote its culture and its values so as to create a sense of identity, involvement, motivation and self-pride among teachers and students. These three kinds of resources are interdependent and they contribute a great deal to the development of an educational institution as a whole and the job of a school manager is to combine and coordinate all these resources to achieve educational goals.

Besides, good educational leaders should respect their colleagues and all the school staff and should treat all students democratically, they should also respect the wishes of the school population and try to meet their requirements. It is also vital that cultural diversity, the different palette of talents and skills teachers and students have should also be respected and cross-cultural awareness should be encouraged.


Openness, which indicates how open-minded a person is, is one of the five personality traits of the well-known Big Five personality theory. As educational management is a domain that requires diverse skills, creative thinking, and a flexible attitude, it definitely benefits from high openness. An educational manager with a high level of openness is inquisitive, imaginative, open to new ideas and theories. Open-mindedness is also a trait all educational leaders should possess as they should listen to and seriously consider alternative viewpoints and daring suggestions, they should have acceptance and respect for other people’s beliefs, emotions and choices. An open-minded leader gains the trust of the team as he is approachable, impartial but also tolerant, unbiased and understanding. Consequently, our students will become open to the perspectives, traditions, values, landmarks of other individuals and communities,


Motivation, the reason for people’s actions, willingness and goals, together with ambition is a powerful drive behind any successful man. Motivation to make things better, to achieve apparently difficult goals, to create an environment conducing to learning and to self-bettering and self-confidence must be conveyed to all around an educational manager. Well-chosen words and especially actions, the personal example, the passion for education are certain to impact morale and to contribute to a higher level of motivation within the educational institution. Displaying genuine commitment and dedication is also an excellent motivator to teachers and students. Motivated staff are likely to engage in tasks willingly, with a lot of determination and enthusiasm and to do their best to improve their skills, which will increase their capabilities. Consequently, like in a “butterfly effect”, our students will become more motivated, ready for challenges and opportunities.


Assertiveness is a quality, a social skill that relies on effective communication, while respecting other people’s thoughts, ideas and wishes. An assertive leader communicates his ideas, suggestions, , thoughts, orders and positions to others in an open, honest and direct way, but also tactfully. It is recommendable that educational managers should defend their educational policy, viewpoints and goals firmly but also open-mindedly, accepting alternative ways of thinking, and they must be open to constructive criticism. Assertiveness also means being a good listener and a clever negotiator, taking responsibility for one’s actions; it allows all of us, and especially those in leading positions, to confront and find mutually satisfying solutions when there are conflicts. It may seem difficult for an educational leader to be assertive because there is a fine line between assertiveness and aggression, and colleagues and students can confuse the two; besides, assertive behaviour can be perceived as rude or even offensive, but an assertive behaviour accompanied by promoting fairness and equality, by a sense of respect for oneself and for the others definitely impacts teachers and students alike positively.


Neatness is of course the quality of being neat, tidy, showing care and concern for order and cleanliness. A school principal who is neat sets an example for colleagues and students and is certain to implement cleaning, desinfecting and sanitizing programmes that address the various demands of cleaning in a school environment. It has been proved that a neat working environment in schools creates a good level of comfort, results in a higher quality of educational acts, contributes to students’ academic success, forges a better public image of the educational institution and impacts positively health and wellbeing. On the other hand, a lack of cleanliness in educational facilities negatively affects the health, attendance, concentration, stress levels and performance of both teachers and students. Schools not only impart knowledge, but they also play a major role in shaping the students’ personality as the whole school environment is a source of knowledge, there are lessons of cleanliness that a student learns there, which he will use in his whole life.


Not many educational leaders are able to deliver inspiring speeches to colleagues, students or parents highlighting the school’s vision and mission, but they can create enthusiasm and optimism and a sense of togetherness if they believe in themselves, believe in others and back these beliefs with concrete action. Napoleon was certainly right to say “A leader is a dealer in hope.”, and if you can inspire the people around you with passion and optimism the educational battle is won.

Innovation, the ability to think outside the box helps us to deal with the complex problems of this century, and this is a quality educational managers should possess. They should discover and develop new or old ideas, experiment new things, dare to be different and to be unique, make changes in routine or in the old ways and mentality, overcome obstacles and envision and promote a brighter future for the sake of their students. As Steve Jobs said, “Innovation distinguishes between a leader and a follower”.

As recent research shows that problems can be successfully solved intuitively, we should learn to trust our instincts wisely, relying on our previous experience and listening to our inner voice and this also holds true for educational managers.


Brene Brown’s words are often quoted when speaking about authenticity : “To be authentic, we must cultivate the courage to be imperfect – and vulnerable. We have to believe that we are fundamentally worthy of love and acceptance, just as we are. I`ve learned that there is no better way to invite more grace, gratitude and joy into our lives than by mindfully practicing authenticity.” Personal authenticity involves self-knowledge (“Nosce te ipsum” springs to mind), moral integrity and a lifetime commitment to maintaining one’s identity and set of values. Therefore, an authentic person stays true to himself, as Shakespeare encapsulated this idea – “to thine own self be true” and also seeks authenticity in others. Authentic educational managers are self-reflective, they have a good understanding of themselves, of their inner and outer worlds and avoid being judgemental as we can all learn from mistakes and failures. They express their opinions courageously, even though they can be different than the opinions of the majority, are good decision-makers, focused on long-term goals and well-defined strategies, they are honest, respect themselves and the people around. Their self-awareness, self-confidence and self-esteem are motivating and they stick to their principles and have a consistent professional and social behaviour, which are positively appreciated by the followers. Consequently, a genuine, values-based educational leadership, or an authentic leadership is required in our educational universe as it can build rich and efficient learning environments for students and a pleasant working environment for teachers.

In conclusion, as education has always been the main change agent in developed and developing societies worldwide, educational management is becoming a well-established science but it is more than the factual application of management principles in education fields, it is the value of educational leaders that matters more. Romanian education has changed dramatically as we have transitioned from communism to democracy and towards European standards, and we need excellent educational managers who continue to improve and grow in their leadership roles, more reform and a concerted effort of all those working in the field of education so that our education system can be successfully reshaped into a modern entity and our confident voice can be heard on an international stage. Educating the new citizens of the world is a too complex, elusive phenomenon to be fully understood, it is a demanding, challenging and rewarding task fulfilled in well-structured environments under the guidance of educational managers and done with love and passion and a lifetime commitment.

1. Busher, Hugh, “Understanding Educational Leadership: People, Power and Culture”, Open University Press, England, 2006;
2. Maxell, John C., “Developing the Leader Within You”, Nelson Impact, Nashville, USA, 2001

prof. Liliana-Adina Caloian

Colegiul Național Mihai Eminescu, Buzău (Buzău) , România
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