Setting meaningful annual goals is one of the Habits of a Sustaining Board. Such goals might include signing the conflict of interest statement, giving to the annual fund, and/or attending a high percentage of board meetings. When it comes to setting school board goals, though, is there one goal that seems to exceed all others when it comes to shaping board behavior and results? Actually, there is one ultimate goal that captures the value of most other options.
The Ultimate Board Goal: Be the best board in the world for whom to work
Regardless of whether the school board is elected or appointed, if your board is the best in the world for whom to work, then you have three big advantages:
- The best school administrators in the world will want to work for you
- You will be most likely to retain top talent
- Your quality of life as a board will be greatly enhanced
You Don't Want the Job
Finding critics of the chief administrator is easy. This is one of the loneliest jobs that is not for the faint of heart. The qualifications required to fill this position are steep, requiring many years of education and experience. The heavy pressure of widely varying expectations from teachers, parents, students, and community leaders can make it tough to sleep at night. A vacancy in the chief's office creates enormous amounts of pressure and work for the board to manage the transitions, communications, search, selection, training, and much more. Respect the position.
Each Change Resets the Clock to Greatness
Leadership consistency and continuity is vital to reach and sustain top performance. Each time the chief administrator is replaced, the process of improvement starts over because of variances in leadership style, priorities, culture, etc. Since it takes 6-8 years for the new school chief to establish effectiveness, how can the institution or district be the best for students when you have a high rate of turnover? The average tenure for public school superintendents in major U.S. metropolitan districts is about three years, and is even less in England and in France. The Sustaining Board pays attention to leadership quality and succession, building a system to raise up the next generation of leaders to maintain long-term continuity.
You Set the Tone for School Culture
Building this kind of world-class culture within the working relationship of the board and chief administrator communicates how much you appreciate the educators in your program. You set the bar high for your sole employee and model the utmost in Level 5 leadership that leads to greatness. Aspiring to excellence in your school(s) begins with a commitment to this level of quality.