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Why We Need Elements of Leadership

By: Nick Esposito on November 22nd, 2021

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Why We Need Elements of Leadership

Innovative Leadership  |  Organizational Leadership & Change Management  |  District Leadership  |  School Leadership

This past September, Education Elements conducted a Leadership Pulse Check Survey of school leaders throughout the country. The results indicated a collective and hopeful outlook, despite the fact that we are living in such challenging and unprecedented times, where our needs and constraints shift on a regular basis.


We learned that for an organization to be successful -- for an organization to thrive with hope, joy, purpose and inspiration -- it must regularly develop people with a cross section of complementing skills. In fact, when we build organizational leadership capacity, when we have a clear understanding of the strengths that exist in and across our teams, we can learn how to deploy our collective leadership to match the needs of the moment.


To aid this organizational development, Education Elements has created the Table of Leadership Elements - inspired by Peter Senge’s book, The Fifth Discipline: The Art & Practice of the Learning Organization. The elements are organized for leaders to take a multi-layered approach to their development, and to the development of their teams. These elements are the learnable, measurable skills that combine to form leadership competencies, and help to align the people we have on our teams to the goals and culture of our schools and districts.

Table of Leadership Elements

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  • Each team member should look inward to analyze their own personal vision. The blue elements require personal mastery and call on leaders to focus their energies, develop patience and openly and honestly see reality as it exists.
  • They should then consider their yellow elements, or mental models to compare new ideas with internal images of how the world works. A learning organization fosters openness and provides direction so static mental models don’t limit innovation.
  • Next, begin to look outwardly to those around you. The green elements represent the organization’s shared vision. This refers to the ability of a group to form and hold a common picture of a desired future that its members seek to create. The organization then begins to grow and learn (red elements).  This is the process of aligning and developing the capacities of a team to learn from and with each other. 
  • Finally, see the whole board and consider the implications of the grey elements, at the systemic level. Systems thinking is the recognition that the organization is made up of interconnected parts, and consideration of the long-term impact of system dynamics over the short-term problems encountered in each part of the system. 


These elements can be applied to some of the most pressing issues. One of the top concerns from our September Leadership Pulse Check Survey: addressing “learning loss.” When thinking about how to address this challenge -- providing support for all students -- we understand that we need a combination of patience, perseverance, active listening, analysis, data fluency, and adaptability. These skills enable us to learn and grow and have the foundational skills needed to begin to address this challenge.


 Table of Leadership Elements to Address “Learning Loss”

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In this way, the Table of Leadership Elements is a leadership approach that ensures that we are able to meet the ever-changing needs of their organizations. 


We have seen school and district leaders meet the moment and guide their communities through a number of crises over the past two school years. Now is the time for educational leaders to build the muscles across their teams to ensure that our educational institutions as a whole become true learning organizations prepared for whichever future challenges we encounter.

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