In this article, Dr. Blane Covert examines the Head of School and Superintendent abilities that are often overlooked by both Boards of Trustees and Search Firms.
Although an educational leader must possess a number of strengths to perform the job effectively, Konnert and Augenstein seemed to minimize any one skill set in particular: “The superintendency is more than knowing how to do; it is knowing how to think and how to feel” (p. xiii).
Specifically, Kanter (1993) argued that social skills were critically important for a leader: “Social certainty, at least, could compensate for some of the other sources of uncertainty in the tasks of management” (p. 58). Evans (1996) also found charisma, which he described as “the ability to touch people deeply, to enlist people into a cause by forging a unique and powerful bond with them” (p. 169) to be a critical gift to possess as a leader, although it is certainly difficult to substantiate.
Finlay and Coverdill (2002) found chemistry to be an important capacity of leadership, defining it as “an employer’s highly subjective evaluation of the quality and ease of interaction with a candidate” (p. 116). “Chemistry is based on the compatibility between the candidate and the hiring organization’s culture, norms, and strategies; it is also based on an interpersonal compatibility between the candidate and the hiring manager” (p. 116).
Khurana (2002) identified this process of evaluating candidate-organization chemistry as social matching, which he defined as “a filtering process that takes place when individual and organizational actors are confronted with choices that are difficult to select among because of limited information, and because the choices themselves cannot be reliably distinguished from one another” (p. 105). In short, a candidate’s personality seems to be the deciding factor in many searches. According to McCool (2008), “Cultural awareness is one of the most neglected and yet most powerful predictors of executive success . . .” (p. 2).
The take-away is to consider both competency AND fit before you hire; a Board of Trustees that ignores either will very likely be involved in yet another search relatively soon.
Academy Educational Consulting helps Boards gain the skills and perspective needed to better manage the search and selection process. To learn more, visit www.academyeducationalconsulting.com.