School Leadership Matters, Don’t Rush Your Hiring Process
By Dyan Sellers
In an education environment, consistency is key to building trust and creating the best possible outcomes for learners. Hiring and nurturing top school leadership should always be a priority when aiming to achieve it. However, in the past several years, it has become increasingly difficult to create a robust and diverse pool of internal and external school leadership candidates with the qualifications needed to meet the needs of the school and its learners.
The Impact of School Leadership Quality on the Learning Environment
At its core, a school is an organization. Like any organization, quality leadership is crucial to providing guidance and support to the staff and those the organization is tasked with serving. In the case of a school, the organization is tasked with serving the needs of students. This is arguably one of the most important tasks that an organization could bear responsibility for, and schools take this responsibility seriously.
The quality and effectiveness of a school’s leadership accounts for approximately 25% of that school’s impact on student academic achievement. School leaders establish and work to promote the vision and direction of the school, and the impact of a school’s leadership is felt in every area of the school.
On a practical level, the school leadership team will be tasked with recruiting, hiring, and nurturing the school’s teachers, support staff, and other team members at every level. Each decision made by a school leader will create a ripple effect that ultimately plays a role in the experience of each student.
Identifying & Nurturing School Leadership Talent
When we look at the most common school leadership recruitment and hiring practices in use today, one common theme stands out. The majority of schools tend to favor a “hire from within” practice that promotes existing staff members into leadership roles over time or draws leadership candidates from a small pool of talent known to the community.
This passive recruitment style means that many schools spend little to no time and effort actively seeking and cultivating talent from a diverse talent pool external to their existing community. When leadership recruitment and selection practices are based on who is known to the community rather than on a candidate’s set of competencies in relation to the role’s requirements, the diversity and quality of the available talent pool are likely to suffer.
Recent events, most notably the ongoing pandemic and associated public health concerns, have placed ever-increasing responsibility and pressure on school leaders. The role of school administrator is tougher than ever, and the decisions being made by school leadership may be more impactful than ever. However, in most schools, compensation has remained stagnant, meaning that school leaders are being tasked with far more responsibility without the incentive of higher earnings. This can make it tough for schools to find quality talent willing to fill these roles, especially if they are in a time crunch.
Timing is Everything
School leadership plays a crucial role in the development and achievement of learners; these roles are far too impactful to overlook or rush recruiting for. District and CMO leadership, as we head into the end of the calendar year, have you begun preparing to fill potential school leadership vacancies for the upcoming school year?
Principals and other school leaders hired too late in the school year often do not have enough time to prepare for the upcoming school year and may have to rush to find and hire great talent to round out their teams. We recommend beginning the hiring process as early as possible to allow for a thorough and thoughtful selection process based on competencies and data, not gut feelings, and a complete and robust onboarding process.
At Edgility, we aim to place candidates in 14 weeks or less, from the point of posting the job to issuing the offer letter, giving us adequate time to cultivate a great list of candidates and usher them through screening and assessment with care and respect. But, our hiring process doesn’t just start with posting the job online. We meet with key constituents, from board members to community members, to develop an ideal candidate profile and position competencies. How can you know what to look for in a great leader, if you don’t ask the people they will serve? This stakeholder engagement usually takes about one month.
Altogether, the process to hire highly qualified leaders who fit with an organization’s values and are reflective of the communities they will be hired to serve can take around 4 months! Are you feeling overwhelmed?
Since its inception, Edgility Consulting has played an instrumental role in helping dozens of schools from public schools to charter schools and private institutions develop and implement robust recruitment and hiring campaigns to allow them to draw from a diverse, and highly-talented pool of candidates well-suited to fill school leadership roles and help them advance the academic achievement and learning experience for their most important shareholders, the students they are tasked with educating. We shepherd organizations through creating an ideal candidate profile, gather great candidates from our network of over 40,000 nominators, and provide hiring process support by project managing onsite interviews, facilitating hiring committee debriefs, and making sure the interview process is grounded in anti-bias principles.
Finding the right leader for your school is imperative to the success of your students. Don’t get stuck with a tight hiring timeline! Reach out today to learn how we can help your school build a better future one leader at a time.