Across American higher education, few master’s-granting institutions — both traditional and nontraditional — design and continuously evaluate their leadership development programs in ways that are rigorous enough to ensure their graduates have the knowledge, skills and support they need to be effective in their specific job settings.
In a new paper, “Emerging Leaders in Public Education: A Data-Informed Approach to Identifying Success Indicators,” we share our leadership competency framework that informs selection and program design for The Broad Residency as we work to answer the fundamental question: What does it take for central-office managers in urban public school systems to produce real results for families and communities?
Anecdotally, we know that strong central-office managers can create the conditions that allow system operations and policy decisions to be focused on students’ best interests, helping resources flow to schools, classrooms and students more equitably. But few studies have identified correlations between the components of K-12 leadership development programs and the skills, knowledge and traits their graduates need to do well in those central-office management roles.
In analyzing five years’ worth of Resident performance data — based on responses to detailed, annual 360-degree assessments by their immediate supervisors — we found that four competencies were positively and strongly correlated to the organizational contributions of our Residents:
- Navigation, including the abilities to earn respect from all levels of the organization; leverage organizational resources to achieve objectives; gain support of others, including those who were previously resistant; and foster a sense of urgency around the needed change.
- Strategy, including the abilities to translate senior management’s broad vision into specific, practical actions; understand and prioritize the biggest needs relative to student achievement; and making progress where change previously stalled, failed or seemed unachievable.
- Management, including the abilities to focus on results to surpass objectives, on time; communicate objectives and prioritize critical-path items; and change behavior in response to feedback.
- Connection, including the abilities to authentically understand and value the perspectives of others; communicate proactively to prevent surprises and misunderstandings; and build strong professional relationships and connect with others meaningfully.
These competencies are part of the Dimensions of Emerging Leadership framework, a tool developed and used by The Broad Residency to help identify strong candidates for the program as well as inform curricula, instruction and Resident support. The framework has been refined over time, based on annual analyses of quantitative and qualitative data on the efforts and outcomes of Resident and alumni work.
By sharing our competency framework, methodology and findings, we hope to equip other higher education and leadership development organizations with the tools they need to develop rich, evidence-based approaches to inform their own program decisions and practices.