Discussions with presidents of various educational associations ultimately led to the question: What enables inspiring leadership in education? The question prompted deep discussion and resulted in a detailed exploration of the answer in partnership with the Australian Primary Principals Association.

Upon reflection, it seemed illogical that such a question would deliver a one word answer. In the end however, there was only one word that accurately answered the question: Alignment. Alignment surfaced as the central driving and directional force behind educational progression and organisational performance. In essence, alignment is harmony between the educational leaders’ ideals and the educational community’s needs.

Anne (Qld Principal) summed up the concept of Alignment with this comment:

We’re aligning the school culture with things … developing teachers as leaders, an inspiring vision, a school-wide pedagogy … it’s been embedded and embraced. All of us come each day to know more, do more and be more!

For Alignment to exist there must be congruence across four key success factors:

  • Shared Expectations – Clear and high expectaions
  • Shared Learning – Professional Practice and learner performance
  • Shared Efficacy – Better ways and potential in others
  • Shared Lexicon – Embedded langauge and the horizon.

Alignment is not orchestrated or directed … it is cultivated and nurtured through active involvement and effort from leaders. Inspiring leaders work hard to get a ‘sense’ of where the point of balance is, and focus on connecting people to a shared dream/vision/direction by aligning the four key success factors.

Alignment involves connecting with people and getting them to ‘go with you on a journey’ because the journey has meaning for them. Lee (TAFE Manager) reflected:

Leaders must connect with others, connect with a common cause, and be able to communicate passionately and authentically to help others connect, as well.

Although Alignment provides the answer to what enables inspiring leadership in education … harmonising the key success factors in the educational setting requires diagnosis and effort.