In Praise of Architects
The One Type of Leader Who Can Turn Around a Failing School by Alex Hill, Liz Mellon, Ben Laker, and Jules Goddard
Harvard Business Review, October 20, 2016
If a school requires change, what type of person is best suited for the job? According to research in publicly-funded schools of the UK, school leaders can be categorized into five types, with only one capable of creating lasting, successful change. These types of leaders, referred to as “architects,” establish sound institutional structures and maintain patient, long term visions. They view the failures of schools as the consequence of faulty design and seek to create better environments within which all stakeholders may thrive. While other types of leaders were found to quickly establish fiscal responsibility or improve academic achievement, their successes proved to be short lived without skillful attention to the macro elements of school life. Limited metrics of institutional success can be strengthened swiftly, but these alternative, less successful leadership types pursued strategies that were frequently shortsighted. Public or private, thriving or failing, all schools must forever strive for improvement. Research suggests that there may be particular characteristics attributable to those most capable of producing lasting results. Do we have the patience to allow the work of these leaders to bear fruit?