Front Runners

10 Effective Leadership Styles in Education

Leading faculty, teachers and students effectively requires a framework that defines your approach. Adopting a leadership style helps you determine how to make decisions, which goals to prioritize and how best to communicate. Some approaches work better than others in different situations. Having a variety of options to choose from can help you select the best approach for each challenge, keeping in mind how they can affect your district, your team and your students. Here are 10 of the most effective leadership styles in education:

1. Affiliate

Focused on the people you lead, an affiliate-style approach cultivates trust among followers and empowers others to carry out their goals. 

2. Authoritative

Useful for institutions with strict rules and policies, an authoritative leadership style establishes a large-scale vision and delegates specific tasks and guidelines for how to reach those goals.

3. Coaching

As a coach, you build strong bonds with those you lead and help them develop their skills. You strive to remain empathetic toward their needs, goals and capabilities while still maintaining focus on the organization’s goals.

4. Coercive

This strict, authoritarian approach involves identifying what needs to be done to achieve a specific outcome and very clearly outlining how to do so. Although not often an appropriate long-term approach, it can be useful during crises.

5. Emotional

This leadership style requires you to have keen emotional intelligence. By focusing on how your staff or students feel, you can understand what motivates them.

6. Instructional

An instructional leadership style is popular in education because it emphasizes improving teaching performance and student progress simultaneously. Instructional leaders also set high expectations for those they lead and provide incentives for good performance.

7. Pacesetting

When the people you lead are both experienced and motivated, set the pace and lead as an example. Set and work toward goals for yourself, such as regularly acquiring new skills, increasing productivity and developing new knowledge about education best practices.

8. Strategic

When you need to focus on long-term planning, consider using a strategic approach. As a strategic leader, you focus less on daily concerns and more on analyzing data, allocating resources and developing partnerships. 

9. Transactional

A transactional style mimics a business transaction and works best on those who are motivated by tangible rewards. For example, an administrator might expect teachers to reach certain performance standards in the classroom in exchange for funding a field trip. 

10. Transformational

A collaborative approach, this style involves clearly communicating at all levels, setting large-scale objectives and delegating tasks without having to closely monitor performance and progress. By empowering others you can create a shared desire to improve and reach goals.

Source: Indeed, 2021.