Leadership for the 21st Century: Breaking Down the Bonds of Dependency (1998)


Because of work overload and competing responsibilities, principals often find it challenging to blaze new trails and lead proactively. In the April 1998 issue of Educational Leadership, internationally known educator Michael Fullan writes about how principals can overcome some of these obstacles and become leaders in school reform.

Read the article: Leadership for the 21st Century: Breaking the Bonds of Dependency

For Fullan, the demands of the job—the “constant bombardment of new tasks and the continual interruptions”—create a context that encourages principals to depend on quick fixes and one-size-fits-all solutions. He suggests “giving up the search for a silver bullet” and instead recommends taking concrete steps that will lead to school reform. These steps include respecting those who you want to silence, forging new alliances, managing on both an emotional and rational level, and staying hopeful in the face of adversity.

With principals still feeling the weight of immense responsibility, Fullan’s advice feels relevant almost a decade later. His prescription for school reform encourages leaders to shrug off insecurity and take charge in smart and effective ways.