There are about 18,000 CBSE affiliated schools and several other State and ICSE schools in India. It is estimated CBSE schools will grow by about 10% every year. That will be a 10 percent increase in the employment of educational administrators of all types, specifically Principals. This doesn’t consider the retiring principals, which I estimate to be less in number as we don’t have a specific retirement age for Principals.

As the need for school leadership increases, the pool of qualified candidates will be a challenge for India, both in urban and rural districts. We have a need to train and make available such leadership in quick time. This document is an overview of what effective leadership is all about.

School founders have to answer three fundamental questions:

  • What kind of educational institutions are we building in this ever changing landscape
  • What leaders do we need to manage and navigate this change?
  • Where do we find them? or How do we prepare principals to lead?

This document considers solutions to these questions. These solutions are expected to to result in new standards of school organization, addressing a shift in the role and responsibility of a Principal together with developing relationships between principals and various functions of a school.

  • The new kind of educational institutions are catering to an urban, nuclear population. The current day parents are mostly double-income-parents. They are also nuclear families. Sometimes these parents are single. Such domestic situations cause different challenges for a school.

Schools in the new millennium cannot restrict their domain to only the “cognitive” areas. They contribute largely to the “Affective” (emotional development) by using the school community.  The role of a school is now well beyond classes and lessons. It is now (w)holistic development of a child. There was a significant contribution from the student’s family until early 1990’s. That support is now fast diminishing.

To meet this new change in the society – a school and Principal have to plan well and execute plans. Plans are made for almost all areas including annual calendars, academic planners, extra-curricular calendar, competitive test participation etc. The Principal is expected to foresee and gather her team to deliver precisely to the calendar.

  • What kind of educational leaders do we need?

Schools are looking for leaders. We need highly competent principals who promote success for all students by

  1. facilitating the development, articulation, implementation, and stewardship of a vision of learning that is shared and supported by the school community;
  2. advocating, nurturing, and sustaining a school culture and instructional program conducive to students of the new millennium
  3. ensuring management of the academic organization, academic operations and resources for a safe, efficient, and effective learning environment;
  4. collaborating with functions that include transport, security and general administration
  5. partnering with families and community members, responding to diverse community interests and needs, and mobilizing community resources;
  6. acting with integrity, fairness, and in an ethical manner;
  7. understanding, responding to, and influencing the larger political, social, economic, legal, and cultural context.

As a country India is changing at a rapid pace. There are new expectations being set and new standards that are developed all around us. These standards will create a shift in roles, responsibilities, and relationships between the constituents that influence a school and the Principals. To meet these new expectations, we must re-imagine leadership. We must abandon the centrist, one-person taking charge tradition that prevails in our schools today. Our vision must focus on “we” rather than “me”.

Principals must spin webs that are connected through relationships rather than power. For all this to happen, we need collective leadership- a leadership that supports relationships. This could chaos But will definitely promote adaptability.

  • Where do we find our new Principals?

School cultures have to value collective leadership and provide opportunities for teachers to become leaders. Every school has a culture of its own and a curriculum it believes in. These are derived from the vision the founders set. New leadership takes time to fathom these practices as the enter laterally into a school. Therefore it is best suited for a school to develop leaders from within.

However this is easier said than done. In the past it was usually the eldest on the team who dons the mantle of a leader. This may not work anymore. Schools have to breakup their structures into layers and help teachers learn different skills at different levels. Administrative skills are acquired by experience. Decision making roles, at several levels, have to be created to enable teachers to be trained within the system. These structures also help Principal develop a “we” culture than a “me” culture.

As the teachers navigate through these structure leaders will emerge. They are usually outspoken, involved and believe in the school culture, participative, loyal and above all they are passionate about the vision and practices that the school sets for itself. Only years of experience or expertise in teaching a subject will not suffice anymore. The new leader has to be capable of all the things mentioned in section-(2) above.

I believe that we can do this as a community and as a country. Principals and school managements have to take the lead. Teachers have to be forthcoming to adapt. Parents have to be educated about these. Together we can build the leaders for our schools.


Shailaja Reddy


TATVA Global School.   

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