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Running head: Field Based Learning Project, Standard 5

Iowa Administrator Standard 5 Interviews


Greg Marshall, 100213307
Drake University

Note: All of the names of those interviewed have been changed to provide anonymity.

Field Based Learning Project, Standard 5

Iowa Administrator Standard 5 Interviews


Iowas School Administrator Standards fifth standard states: an education leader
promotes the success of every student by acting with integrity, fairness and in an ethical manner.
In order to gain a deeper understanding of what this looks like in a school setting I interviewed
three people I consider good leaders. The purpose of these interviews was to gain insight into
their ability to lead, and to reflect on how I can use their unique experiences to help me grow as
an emerging leader. The first person I interviewed was Bill, a principal of a large urban high
school. The next person interviewed was John. John was a pastor with twenty seven years
experience leading a church in central Iowa, and is now retired. The final interview was with
Katherine, a chiropractor who founded and operates her own clinic. I asked each person the
same twelve questions and their views of leadership were surprisingly similar. Each person had
very different roles as leaders but they all provided valuable lessons on leadership.
Similarities
The various leaders that I interviewed had a quite a few similarities. One of the
commonalities centered on culture and climate. All three people interviewed believed that it was
extremely important to establish a positive culture and climate. They all agreed on the
importance of making people feel welcome and its impact on culture and climate. Pastor John
said, I went of my way to make sure everyone was greeted in order to make them feel
welcome. In Katherines chiropractic clinic, she is purposeful to create an atmosphere where
clients feel comfortable. She stated, I want to make sure every patient has a positive experience
every time they walk in the door so they will want to keep coming back. By creating a
welcoming environment, people feel at ease and have a desire to be there. This translates to
schools as well. Bill pointed towards culture and climate as essential to having a successful

Field Based Learning Project, Standard 5

school. Bill said, The key is to get them in the door. If you create a welcoming environment
within a school, students and their parents are more likely to be involved. Bill maintained that
creating a positive culture and climate was essential for schools to be successful. All three
leaders believed that being positive and welcoming set the tone for their organizations culture
and climate.
All three believed that it was better to be transparent with the people you are leading.
As the leader of a church, John stated, trust is extremely valuable and I always felt that not
being transparent would lead to conflict. One way John avoided conflict was to hold open
meetings and not exclude members of the congregation. Bill discussed the importance of
communication with his staff. Bill said:
If it impacts teachers I want them to know about it. I strive to have good
communication with my teachers by emailing agendas and the minutes of
meetings so I can be totally transparent. I do not want to seem like I have hidden
agendas.
Having good communication skills is an essential quality a good leader needs to master.
Katherine strives to be open and honest with her employees. She stated, I want them to know
my expectations so we can provide the highest quality experience for my patients. This would
hold true to schools as well. Keeping staff well informed allows everyone to be moving in the
same direction. Being transparent is important for leaders, and to be transparent a leader needs
to be a good communicator.
A third similarity that all three agreed on was using data to guide decision making. John
would frequently survey his congregation to measure their satisfaction with church leadership.
Katherine believed that in order to grow her business she needed to keep a close eye on various

Field Based Learning Project, Standard 5

spreadsheets that tracked how the clinic was performing. Bill relied heavily on data to guide the
direction he wanted to take the school. Accurate data is critical to school leaders so long term
goals can be set and progress can be tracked. Bill discussed how the data was a major
component for many of the decisions he is required to make each school year. Having accurate
and appropriate data is critical to ones ability to lead. Without that information decision making
would be extremely challenging.
The final similarity dealt with staffing. The general belief held by all three was that you
need to put people in a position for success. John didnt necessarily have the need to hire anyone
but did have to recruit members of the congregation to committees. He said I always tried to
think about who would be the best fit and get the most accomplished. For John this meant
matching the churches needs to the people with the proper skills to complete the task. For
Katherine and Bill, both maintained that hiring the right people will make an organization
successful. Both felt that there is too much at stake to not have good employees. Bill said,
Teachers must be professional and have a need to grow beyond the normal requirements of the
job. Bill believed that students deserved the best, and a big part of his job was to provide them
with teachers that wanted to grow and perfect their craft. All three interviewed believed that how
you staff people can make a big difference in how business was done. Having the right people
in any organization is an essential component for success.
Differences
Beyond their similarities there were some key differences between the interviewees.
Most notably were their views on accountability and dealing with conflict. Katherines
livelihood is wrapped up in the success of her clinic. She said, I cannot afford to have
employees who cant do the job. If they dont work out they have to be fired. In Johns case he

Field Based Learning Project, Standard 5

did not have the power to terminate people. Johns strategy for dealing with conflict was to
sleep on it. He felt that after a brief period of reflection he would deal with the issue on a face
to face basis so he could listen to all sides. For Bill, accountability in schools was considerably
different due to a number of factors, such as the teachers union, test score goals and community
standards. Bill said, in most cases I fall back on district guidelines and the employee contract.
The stakes are very different for each person I interviewed; however, each leader provided
insight that could be applied to the job of principal.
Another difference between the leaders interviewed was their motivations. Each person
had very unique aspirations. Katherine was motivated by a desire to help people with their
health and by financial gains. John was motivated by the affirmations of others around him.
John said, It was a calling that brought me to the ministry, but the people around me kept me
going by their affirmations. Bill was driven by the impact he has on student achievement. Bill
stated, I am always looking at the schools data to keep moving the ball up the hill, to keep
students achieving. Their motives and goals were all very different but they all had an affinity
for working with people.
Surprises
There were a number of surprises that came from my discussions. One surprise came
from interviewing Katherine. She talked at length about the coaching she does with her
employees. She said, In my head I have a vision for how I want the clinic to run, but unless I
specifically teach that to my employees they wont know how to help with that vision. Having
employees greet patients in a certain way does not happen all on its own. Those details had to
be expressly relayed to her staff. If they were still not performing to her standards Katherine
realized that she needed to coach them again. Translating this idea to a school setting, if a

Field Based Learning Project, Standard 5

principal has an idea for the direction he or she would want to take the staff, they would need to
be specifically taught in order to have the skills to carry out the vision. It is always negligent to
assume everyone in an organization shares the same vision.
Another surprise came from Bill, the principal. When asked about being able to create
balance between his person and professional life, he brought up the role physical activity played
in his ability to do the job. Bill said:
In order to be an effective leader you must take care of yourself. The stress of
leading a building can have a negative impact on your health and well-being. I
have known several principals who had heart attacks, and several more that got
divorced. It is so important that you have an outlet for that stress and take time to
get some physical activity.
While this advice seems like common sense, for many leaders it is probably overlooked. Taking
time to reflect and decompress allow a leader to stay centered. Making sure that there are
positive influences in your life will help keep the stressful things in perspective. All leaders will
have pressures put on them, but by maintaining a good standard of health and wellness it will
help a leader be more effective both personally and professionally.
Big Ideas/Takeaways
There were three key takeaways from my conversations. First was that if you want to be
successful you must be proactive. Katherines advice to new leaders was, you must work your
tail off. You cant sit back and wait for things to happen, go make them happen. It will take
sacrifice but it will be worth it in the end. Being an educational leader is never going to be easy.
However, having the mindset that success will require hard work and sacrifice will help navigate
many of the road blocks.

Field Based Learning Project, Standard 5

A second big idea was that to be a good leader one must continually study leadership.
This idea came from the discussion with John who said, a leader must never stop growing.
They must spend time studying other leaders and new ways of leading. Leaders must
continually evolve and change if they want to remain effective. In schools a principal must never
allow their growth to become stagnate. A good leader must always study leadership and never
stop learning about innovative ways to lead.
The third big idea was about planning for the future. Bill stressed the importance of
knowing yourself and having a plan for the path you want your career to take. When asked about
advice for a new leader in education Bill said,
Be honest with yourself about why you want to become a principal. Know
exactly what you want your career to be and have the next step planned. When
offered a job at a school make sure you are a fit for that community. Dont take a
job thinking you will fit into a mold because it will lead to conflict. Know who
you are and what you stand for so you can find the right school to lead.
Knowing yourself is essential in leadership. As a leader you are constantly called upon to make
decisions, sometimes without all the information. By knowing what you believe in and what you
will accept, will help a person deal with the consequences of those decisions. Having a plan for
the future is also an important part of being a good leader. You must first know where you are
heading before others can be led. Being successful means you first put yourself in a position to
be successful.
In conclusion, after completing these interviews I found that it does not matter what type
of organization you are leading, but that good leadership is a skill that must be constantly honed
in order to be effective. There were many more similarities than differences in their views on

Field Based Learning Project, Standard 5

good leadership between the people I interviewed. A good leader knows who they are, is
proactive and has a vision for the future of their organization. A leader must be willing to work
hard and sacrifice in order to be successful.