As we create job descriptions and prepare interview questions, what skills are most important to the mission and vision of the school?

SAIS is developing responsibility and skills lists for a number of positions. These lists offer sample language from a variety of sources to help craft or review a position description. Several examples are provided to allow schools to choose those that best match the mission and culture of the school and the requirements of the specific position.

If the pandemic has taught us anything, we have learned that the skills required to be successful in the current reality have moved beyond organization and time management. Listening in on our virtual roundtables, we often hear that now, more than ever, the ability to build and maintain relationships is what sets our schools apart. Throughout school closures, virtual learning, and masked in-person interactions, those that were able to develop and maintain relationships have demonstrated the resilience needed to survive and thrive.

So, what does this mean as we enter hiring season for teachers, department leaders, and non-instructional positions? As we create job descriptions and prepare interview questions, what skills are most important to the mission and vision of the school?

The Center for Creative Leadership offers six skills for middle managers like division and department heads.

  1. Thinking and acting systemically
    • What we usually refer to as big picture thinking, thinking and acting systemically requires the supporting skills of recognizing patterns, self-control, and empathy.
  2. Resiliency
    • As the ability to handle stress with flexibility, we may look back on this pandemic era with resilience as the word that describes success.
  3. Communication
    • Communication has always been a required skill for any leader. The past two years have taught us how important it is for schools to communicate important information clearly, quickly, and with transparency.
  4. Influence
    • CCL encourages leaders to develop organizational intelligence, promote their team, build trust, and leverage networks to build their skill of influence.
  5. Learning agility
    • Agile learners are described as innovating, performing, reflecting, risking, and defending. This quick quiz will give you a sense of your learning agility.
  6. Self-awareness
    • Understanding your own leadership style allows you to use your strengths and identify areas for growth.

Dr. Joseph Lathan from the University of San Diego identifies 10 traits of successful school leaders.

  • Understand the importance of building community.
  • Empower teachers and cultivate leadership skills.
  • Utilize data and resources.
  • Have a vision and a plan.
  • Create collaborative, inclusive learning environments.
  • Be passionate about the work.
  • Encourage risk-taking.
  • Lead by example.
  • Persevere and stay with a school for at least five years.
  • Be a lifelong learner.

Financial Management encourages organizations to think outside the box when identifying skills for finance professionals, although you may find these four apply to several positions in the school.

  1. Ability to think in pictures
    • Seeing stories in data, spotting trends, and making data-driven decisions
  2. Quick learners who bring a blend of technical and soft skills
    • Blending technical ability with emotional intelligence, proficient communication, and negotiation skills
  3. Healthy appetite for risk
    • Innovative, willing to work within a level of risk, and freedom to do so
  4. Goal-oriented problem-solvers
    • Bringing a fresh perspective and solutions for problems not clearly defined

As you think about the desired skills for a new or open position, look beyond the traditional and focus on the abilities and expertise that will allow your new hire the flexibility and feeling of belongingness to make a great contribution to the mission and vision of the school.