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Professor Pearl Kane Writes About Leadership in the New Millennium

In "Farewell, Lone Warrior," a recent article written for the Independent School, Pearl Kane says: "School leadership at the turn of the century calls for different skills and competencies, and a departure from the notion of the lone warrior commanding an organization."

Kane, Associate Professor of Education and Director of the Klingenstein Center for Independent School Education, continues, "The most encouraging news that emerges from the vast literature on leadership is that much of what is needed for success can be learned." She maintains that there appears to be "an emerging consensus" on what is necessary for leading organizations effectively today and into the next millennium.

She describes "core competencies," skills, knowledge, and attitudes that effective leaders share. Her list includes: intelligence, integrity, caring, competence, team building, use of power, people management, community involvement, political astuteness, self awareness, emotional intelligence, commitment, continuous improvement, understanding diversity, and intraorganizational alliances.

While all the "core competencies" deserve full explanation, Kane says "use of power" and "political astuteness," are critical elements in effective leadership.

In writing about the "use of power," she says, "Despite widespread belief to the contrary, powerlessness in organizations may be more destructive than powerfulness."

Kane defines powerfulness as including "having access to resources and information, and the ability to act quickly to get the job done." To increase power, she adds, "leaders need to enable others in the school to act by delegating responsibility and providing resources and information for making decisions. Instead of diminishing power, power sharing actually enhances a leader's influence and effectiveness."

In discussing "political astuteness," Kane says, "The word ‘political' is often thought of as a dirty word in independent schools." She argues, however, that leaders must be politically astute in three major areas: agenda setting, networking and coalition forming, and bargaining and negotiating. "In setting an agenda," she says, "school leaders must create a climate for change that has two major elements: a vision for the school's future and a strategy for achieving that vision."

"The first practical task in building networks and coalitions," Kane adds, "is to figure out whose help you need. The second is to develop relationships with those people."

Heads of schools, she says, need support to get things done, but they also need "critical friends" or allies to provide honest feedback. To receive support, Kane, forthrightly says, "you must cultivate it." The way to that, she says, is through "bargaining and negotiation." Because much of what goes on in school requires negotiation and bargaining, Kane believes that "successful heads learn the value of open and collaborative behavior."

She is not concerned about the outmoded model of a leader of a school, a person who is too autocratic, too remote, and too lonely. The new model, she says, is "more complex, challenging and also more enticing."

The emerging model of leadership, according to Kane, is one "where power is shared, where work is accomplished in teams and where there is an opportunity for continuous learning."previous page