Author’s Management Advice for School Principals

Though I am no expert on education, I have many years of management experience while at Eli and Company and in management consulting. In my opinion, the school principal is the most important job in the educational system. Your superiors are important but you’re right there where the “rubber meets the road”. I hope this management advice will be helpful–a few suggestions, in no particular order:


  • Teachers are frustrated not by teaching but by their inability to teach. Your job is to eliminate barriers that keep them from teaching effectively.
  • Teachers are frustrated not by teaching but by their inability to teach.Manage by walking around – too much time in your office will not allow you to stay engaged.
  • Don’t wear your authority on your shirtsleeve – folks know you have authority and don’t need to be constantly reminded.
  • Treat your staff as a political constituently; if there was an election, you want them to vote for you.
  • Every now and then, you may need to exert your authority – do it with just enough force to let your folks know you’ve got backbone/guts/grit.
  • A leader must be the vision caster – where do you want to your organization to go?
  • You will become wrapped up in what Steven Covey calls the “urgent now” – set aside some time each week to think about the future and how to make it unfold the way you want it to.
  • Quality is a constant concern – set high standards and work to reach these standards.
  • Strive to create an organization that can run without you for a month – don’t try to be indispensable.
  • From a course I Taught at the Kelley School of Business IU Bloomington, here are the most important characteristics of admired leaders: Honesty, (almost always #1), next, Forward-looking, inspiring and competent.[1]

Richard Garrett

January 2015

[1] Kouzes and Posner, The Leadership Challenge, Jossey-Bass Publishers, 1995, p 21