What are the skills ” a great principal” possess?

The skills of 21st century school principal aligned with examples

A great principal in the 21st century possesses a range of skills that enable them to effectively lead and navigate the complex educational landscape. Here are some key skills that align with the role of a 21st-century school principal, along with examples of how they manifest:

Visionary Leadership: A great principal has the ability to articulate a compelling vision for the school that inspires and motivates others. They establish a clear direction for the school’s future, envisioning innovative approaches to education and creating a roadmap for success.

Example: – The principal develops a vision for the school that emphasizes project-based learning, integrating technology across all subjects, and preparing students for careers in STEM fields. They may develop a vision statement that focuses on student-centered learning, 21st-century skills development, and fostering a culture of innovation. They communicate this vision to teachers, parents, and the community, and work collaboratively to implement initiatives aligned with the vision.

Technology Integration: A great principal embraces technology and understands its potential to enhance teaching, learning, and school administration. They stay informed about emerging technologies and guide the integration of digital tools into the curriculum.

Example: The principal leads the implementation of a 1:1 device program, providing laptops or tablets to all students and supporting teachers in effectively integrating technology into their lessons. They might support teachers in using online platforms, interactive educational software, or data analytics to personalize instruction and track student progress. They arrange professional development sessions on educational apps, online resources, and digital citizenship to enhance teachers’ technological proficiency.


Data Analysis and Decision-Making: A great principal utilizes data effectively to inform decision-making processes. They collect, analyze, and interpret data to identify trends, track student performance, and assess the effectiveness of instructional strategies. They make data-informed decisions that improve student outcomes and allocate resources more efficiently.

Example: The principal analyzes student assessment data to identify areas of improvement. They use the data to guide instructional decisions, such as implementing targeted interventions, adjusting curriculum pacing, or providing additional support to struggling students.

Collaboration and Networking: A great principal understands the value of collaboration and actively seeks opportunities to collaborate with teachers, parents, community members, and other stakeholders. They build partnerships, foster a culture of collaboration within the school, and leverage external networks to support the school’s goals.

Example: The principal establishes partnerships with local businesses to create mentoring programs or internship opportunities for students. They collaborate with neighboring schools to share resources and expertise, and participate in professional networks to exchange best practices and stay informed about educational innovations.


Cultural Competence and Equity: A great principal recognizes and values the diversity of the school community. They foster an inclusive and equitable environment where all students feel valued and supported. They promote culturally responsive practices, implement strategies to address achievement gaps, and ensure equitable access to resources and opportunities.

Example: The principal implements a culturally responsive curriculum that includes diverse perspectives and addresses the unique needs of all students. They might organize multicultural events, provide professional development on culturally responsive teaching, and establish support systems for diverse learners. They ensure that resources, support services, and extracurricular opportunities are accessible and equitable for all students, regardless of their background or abilities.

Communication and Relationship Building: A great principal possesses strong communication skills and actively engages with stakeholders. They listen attentively, provide feedback, and foster open lines of communication within the school community. They build positive relationships with teachers, students, parents, and the wider community to create a supportive and collaborative environment. For instance, they might hold regular town hall meetings, establish effective channels for parent-teacher communication, and engage with community organizations.

Example: The principal holds regular parent workshops to enhance communication and involvement. They use various platforms, such as newsletters, social media, and a user-friendly school website, to keep parents informed about school events, policies, and student progress. They also establish effective channels for open dialogue with teachers, students, and parents.


Continuous Learning and Adaptability: A great principal embraces a growth mindset and models a commitment to lifelong learning. They stay informed about current educational research, best practices, and emerging trends. They encourage professional development for themselves and their staff, promoting a culture of continuous learning within the school.

Example: The principal encourages teachers to attend conferences, engage in online professional learning communities, and participate in job-embedded professional development. They allocate time for collaborative planning and reflection to foster a culture of continuous learning and improvement within the school.

Problem-Solving and Innovation: A great principal demonstrates strong problem-solving skills and encourages an environment of innovation within the school. They identify challenges, think critically, and seek creative solutions. They support teachers in trying new instructional strategies, experimenting with innovative approaches, and embracing change.

Example: The principal establishes an Innovation Committee comprising teachers, students, and community members to explore new instructional approaches and educational technologies. They might establish an innovation lab or allocate resources for teachers to explore new teaching methodologies. They encourage teachers to experiment with innovative teaching methods, such as flipped classrooms or project-based learning, and provide support and resources for their implementation.


Emotional Intelligence and Empathy: A great principal possesses emotional intelligence and understands the importance of empathy in building relationships and supporting the well-being of students and staff. They create a nurturing and supportive school climate where individuals feel valued, heard, and understood. For instance, they might implement social-emotional learning programs, provide counseling services, or prioritize staff well-being initiatives.

Example: The principal implements a social-emotional learning program that promotes emotional intelligence, empathy, and positive relationships among students and staff. They create a safe and inclusive environment where students feel supported, respected, and understood, and provide resources for mental health and well-being.

Resilience and Adaptability: A great principal demonstrates resilience in the face of challenges and adapts to changing circumstances. They remain calm, composed, and positive, modeling resilience for their staff and students. They embrace change, learn from failures, and find opportunities for growth.

Example: They might lead the school through transitions, navigate budget constraints, or address unexpected crises with composure. The principal leads the school through a major renovation project, demonstrating resilience and adaptability in managing logistical challenges, maintaining continuity of instruction, and ensuring a positive school climate during the construction period.


These skills enable a great principal to lead effectively in the dynamic and evolving landscape of 21st-century education, fostering innovation, equity, and student success.