Top Traits that Employers Want: Leadership

Whether you have just completed your degree and are ready to enter the educational workforce, or have been working away for a while now and want to move up the ladder, you’ll find one of the main traits that employers and school boards look for consistently (and yet often cannot find easily) is leadership potential.

Candidates who can demonstrate they have the top educational leadership qualities, and/or have experience heading up schools, will typically put themselves in very good favor with school boards straight away.

No matter what industry you are in, and whether you have picked up skills from obtaining an education specialist degree, teaching workshops, on-the-job training or other ways, you must be able to convey your abilities in an interview. Read on for some key qualities that every good educational leader needs to possess.

Communication Skills and the Ability to Inspire

One of the most important traits of successful principals, teachers, and other educational leaders is the ability to communicate well. This is important for a wide variety of areas. For starters, you must be able to get your requirements across to your teachers and administrative team, and clearly and succinctly communicate goals, details, and the school’s mission and vision so that everyone is working towards the same things.

Communication skills are a necessity when it comes to training and managing teachers, as well as in creating a productive environment at the school, and inspiring the team to greatness. It is important to make your teachers and stuff feel like they are invested in the accomplishments of the school, whether they work in classrooms or in the office.

You also need to be able to use your words and body language to entice top teachers to join staff. Investors and donors need to believe in the school enough that they part with their cash. And parents need to engage with your school’s brand and be convinced to send their children to your institution.


Another characteristic found in most top educational leaders is confidence. After all, if you don’t seem to be confident in your school, why would students, parents, and teachers engage in, be interested in, or contribute to it too?

Being confident not only helps you to impress interviewers and school boards when you’re applying for the job, but to help everyone else you come into contact with believe in your skills and your leadership.

Confidence also helps you to get through the hard times. All leaders have challenging days, weeks, months, or even years, where it feels like an uphill battle to get results or to simply keep going, and this is even more the case in schools. Having confidence not only in your own abilities but also in those of your staff and in school itself will help you to stay the course. Your confidence will rub off on your team (after all, they take their cues from their leader), and will help ensure morale is kept high when it is really needed.


Watch or read interviews with some of the world’s most renowned leaders, and you’ll find that they all typically have a very strong level of focus; this is something that is also important in the education sector. Being focused on goals and on the tasks at hand help educational leaders to plan for the future and avoid being distracted, plus stay organized, achieve more, and become the absolute experts in their field.

By having laser-like focus, you will more easily see potential risks and opportunities well ahead of time. You will also understand the various impacts of your decisions, be able to put processes in place to keep the school on track for success.


Creativity is another important trait that a good educational leader should possess. With constant budget cuts and changing laws and regulations, school administrators must be able to deviate from their current course if needed, and come up with alternative solutions to problems or new ways of looking at things.

Thinking outside the box will help you to stay ahead of, and out-maneuver the issues, as well as to come up with new programs, budgets, or innovations that grab the attention of students increase enrollment and teacher job-satisfaction.

Commitment, Patience and Persistence

If you want to be a top educational leader and help your school achieve success, you also need to be committed, persistent, and have plenty of patience. When you are working with students, you will need to show your skills and knowledge and prove yourself over time. This means you must be committed to the school you work for, persistently work hard, and be patient.

Once you are leading a school, you still also need to have these qualities in spades. Things often turn out differently than you expected, or are much more challenging than you thought. During these times you need to hunker down and work, staying committed to the cause and having patience when you and your staff may not be achieving goals as quickly as you would like.