Moving beyond heroism: Strategic school leadership

Terry QUONG, Allan David WALKER

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlespeer-review


Schools as organisations are complex inter-related systems, in which leadership has intended and unintended outcomes. Leadership is deliberate - or should be - and is about focused action and considered decisions. Leadership should also be strategic, where strategic means positioning the organisation to its best advantage in order to maximise goal attainment. For schools, this means achieving the best possible student outcomes now and into the foreseeable future. Today's world calls for post-heroic leaders whose work involves collaborating with multiple stakeholders and putting in place strategies to respond rapidly to solve complex problems that often require new ways of thinking and understanding of rapidly changing knowledge. Such leaders can be said to be strategic. Based on the authors' work with four cohorts of school leaders over four years, they have explored what it was that effective and successful strategic leaders do and the authors describe this in terms of seven principles: (1) strategic leaders are futures-oriented and have a futures strategy; (2) strategic leaders are evidence- based and research-led; (3) strategic leaders get things done, which means to have the reputation as a person of action and achievement, someone who can be relied upon to deliver outcomes; (4) strategic leaders open new horizons, which means to be innovative, receptive to initiatives and to be a leader of transition; (5) strategic leaders are fit to lead, which is all about planning and working on their wellbeing - 'fit' leaders are resilient and reliable in times of stress and rapid change; (6) strategic leaders make good partners and are seen by staff to be good people to partner with in dealing with issues and in moving into the future; (7) strategic leaders do the 'next' right thing, which means to be ethical and values-driven and to have a reputation for leading a school that instils values in children. Copyright © 2009 Author(s).
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)32-38
JournalPrincipal Matters
Publication statusPublished - 2009


Quong, T., & Walker, A. (2009). Moving beyond heroism: Strategic school leadership. Principal Matters, 80, 32-38.


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