Principal as the Leader in a Culture of Change - Emotional Intelligence

The Heart-Brain Connection: The Neuroscience of Social, Emotional, and Academic Learning

The role of the principal has shifted over the past two decades. Principals were considered building level management and trained in the principles of transformational leadership. The new norm over the past decade has shifted to the principal as the instructional leader of the school. The past two years have shifted this again to the principal as the instructional leader of the building….in a culture of change, which has a tremendous human capital component of leadership. Simon Sinek said that “leadership is a choice” and “leadership isn’t about authority, it’s about influence; not being in charge, but taking care of those in our charge.” More now than ever in leadership, taking care of employees, with the patience of Job, is critical to organizational success. Part of leadership is keeping a pulse on the emotional well-being of staff, including morale and the climate of the school.

Dispositions of Emotional Intelligence in School Principals

Fullan (2001) says “My point is that the principal of the future has to be much more attuned to the big picture, and much more sophisticated at conceptual thinking, and transforming the organization through people and teams. This, too, was my conclusion when I examined successful leadership for businesses and in school system.” While I’m always excited and love the instructional leadership component of being a principal, I realize that one of the most important things we can do as principals right now is work on our culture in the school with a focus on taking care of our teachers and staff, and our teachers/staff taking care of our kids, with administration and teachers having patience and compassion for parents/community showing signs of stress. Goleman, Boyatzis and McKee (2002) claim that emotionally intelligent leaders and emotionally intelligent organizations are essential in complex times.

Fullan says “sustained improvement of schools is not possible unless the whole system is moving forward”. This commitment to the social environment is precisely what the best principals will do in 2020-21 in realizing this supports and enables instructional capacity throughout the school. People operate within systems and do what systems allow them to do. While we will continue to build instructional capacity, it requires the right culture and mechanisms of support from both an instructional and emotional standpoint. Many instructional leaders are heavily focused on numbers and data, instructional practices, and moving test scores…….but for significant learning to take place at a high level this school year we must focus on our teachers and students' emotional health to ensure we are taking as many things off of them as possible, providing as much support as possible, and doing everything we can to help them be able to do their jobs well! If there's one things principals must do this school year to be's take care of your people!

Why Social-Emotional Intelligence Matters in Schools

There are many different components and aspects of a school that principal must monitor and make necessary adjustments to keep the school on track and performing at an optimal level. People often see the performance of the school in public relations through the school's appearance and communication presence, the financial side of the school through accounting protocols, instructional performance through test scores and instructional performance benchmarks; however the emotional component of schools and personnel contributes to the school's success in all areas of the work. Keeping a pulse on the social-emotional health and well-being of students allows administrators to make necessary adjustments to keep performance levels high and continuous. Our job as administrators should be to make it easier for teachers to do their job well.