A Principal as a Leader

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Dr. Upendra Kaushik
Chairman, Governing Body,
Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan’s Vallabhram Mehta Public School, Vadodara

A Principal as a leader should have a vision and mission.Dr. Upendra Kaushik, Chairman, Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan’s V.M. Public School, Vadodara, shares what makes a Principal a leader.


Dr. Upendra KaushikA Principal as a leader has to make dozens of decisions everyday and play the role as manager, problem solver, decision maker, communicator, human resource developer, programme developer, counsellor, scheduling agent, financial manager, school plant manager, mediator, diplomat and institution strategist.A Principal as a leader should have a vision and mission. Vision represents the imagination of future events and prepares the challenging portraits of what the school would be in future. It implies that the school should create projections about where it should go and what major challenges lie ahead. Vision motivates and provides direction. A vision dramatizes new directions that others might not buy into otherwise. Vision is a useful tool of influence for prospective followers who are resistant to change and who find vivid picture or images inspiring.

A visionary Principal works with imagination, insight and boldness. He/she presents a challenge that calls forth the best in people. He/she works with the power of intentionality and alignment with a higher purpose. His/her eyes are on the horizon, not just on what is near at hand. He/she is a social innovator and changing agent, seeing the big picture and thinking strategically. He/she finds a higher synthesis of the best of both the sides of an issue and addresses the systematic root causes of problems to create real break through.

As a visionary, he/she may dream wonderful visions of the future and articulate them with great inspiration. A visionary Principal is good with actions as well as words. A visionary Principal is effective in manifesting his/her vision. He/she creates specific, achievable goals, initiates action and enhances participation of others. A commitment to values is an outstanding feature of visionary Principals. He/she embodies a sense of personal integrity and radiates a sense of energy, vitality and will. A visionary Principal moves energy to a higher level by offering a clear vision of what is possible. He/she inspires people to be better than they already are and helps them identify with what Lincoln called, “The angles of their better nature.” A visionary Principal has the ability to see higher spiritual forces at work behind the scenes of events. A visionary Principal transmits energy to people giving them a new sense of hope and confidence in achieving the vision. Good relationships are the heart of effective visionary Principal. He/she embodies a caring approach to people seeing them as his/her greatest asset. A visionary Principal is responsive to the real needs of people and he/she develops participative strategies to include people in designing his / her own future. His / Her thinking is broad and systematic seeing the big picture, the whole system. He/she anticipates change and is proactive, rather than reactive to events. His/her focus is on opportunities and not on problems.

So, if a Principal is a visionary, his/her school will be characterised by many features like :

(i) The school holds a distinctive set of values from which it will not deviate.

(ii) The school will express its core objectives in enlightened terms. These will provide challenges for action.

(iii) The school develops a visionary scenario of its future and decides actions accordingly and implements them. On the basis of this vision, he/she will prepare the mission statement. Mission is the philosophy about what the enterprise is in reality and what it wants to do.It should be precise about procedures and plans as they apply to the enterprise and describes how the school activities will lead to the desired outcomes.

According to Theodore Hesburgh, President of the University of Notre Dame, “The very essence of leadership is that you have to have a vision. It’s got to be a vision you articulate clearly and forcefully on every occasion.”In the words of James Kouzes and Barry Posner, “There’s nothing more demoralizing than a leader who can’t clearly articulate why we’re doing what we’re doing.”

Thus, a good Principal shares a dream and direction that other people want to share and follow. The leadership vision goes beyond written organizational mission statement and his/her vision statement. The vision of leadership permeates the workplace and is manifested in the actions, beliefs, values and goals of his school’s leaders. A good Principal keeps in his/her mind that the vision must clearly set school’s direction and purpose, inspire loyalty and allegiance through the involvement of all employees/ followers, display and reflect the unique strengths, values, beliefs and direction of the school, inspire enthusiasm, belief, commitment and excitement in the followers/employees, help employees/followers to believe that they are part of something bigger than themselves and their daily work, be regularly communicated and shared and challenge people to out :do themselves, to stretch and reach.

In brief, a principal as a leader* :

  • makes things right or put things in their right places.When he/she himself/herself is right, then the subordinates/followers naturally follow him/her in right course.
  • strives till he/she eradicates impiety, impropriety and injustice and till he/she establishes a rule of law (justice) and truth, and a humane, healthy and fair game.
  • has empathy and listens to the needs of what his/her followers/subordinates require, not what he/she “needs.”
  • remembers, two ears and two eyes can accomplish more than one mouth, listens more, talks less and does the right thing by his/her subordinates/followers.
  • permits subordinates/followers to know that he/she understands them that he/she understands their needs.
  • engages and empowers the subordinates/followers. He/she is transformational, not transactional one.Does not wildly wield his/her power but harness it to fruitfully yield results.
  • believes in merit, and the winning of it, and good work is the goal of his/her ambition.
  • discharges the responsibilities of his/her position, sets the best examples before himself/herself.
  • does not neglect to study the examples ofthose who have behaved wrongly or failed in the same position, in order to learn what to avoid at all costs.
  • girds himself/herself to create good precedents for others to follows in his/her footsteps.
  • maintains the right of his/her position, but does not stir up questions of jurisdiction unless they are within his/her sphere.
  • assume his/her right in silence and defects, rather than voice it with claims and challenges.
  • invites and welcomes help and advice on the execution of his/her position.
  • avoids delay, always accessible, keeps appointments, prepares for exigencies and accomplishes tasks that are at hand.
  • roots out corruption, does not only restrain himself/herself or those under his/her from offering bribes to others.
  • believes that “authority should be constructive, not humiliating, a position of authority shows an individual in his /her true colours.It shows some individuals in a better light and other in a worse light.”

(*Reference: “Good Governance” article by Adi F. Merchant in Bhavan’s Journal, Vol.64 No.3, 15 September)

Dr. Upendra Kaushik, B.Com (Hons), M.Com.(Business Administration), B.Ed., Ph.D, is in School education and administration since 1978. He is a well known educationist, consultant, mentor, trainer and motivator. He has authored 19 books in Business, Management and Entrepreneurship. He has rich experience in the field of Curriculum Development, Measurement and Evaluation, Development Text Books and Instructional Materials. He has been the resource person for training programmes on Value Education, Consumer Education, Population and Development Education, General Management, Marketing Management, Capacity Building for Skill-Upgradation, Finance and Marketing for Women Entrepreneurs and associated with CBSE, NIOS,CIE University of Delhi, Voice, CDS, KVS, HUDCO, HARDICON, STC and SMSMEI and NIESBUD. Since 1990, he has trained more than 2,000 entrepreneurs.

He is the recipient of more than 55 accolades at the State, National and International level including ‘National Award to Teachers -2001’ instituted by Ministry of Human Resource Development, Government of India, ‘State Teacher Award – 2002’ instituted by the Government of NCT, Delhi, Dr. S. Radhakrishnan Memorial National Award -2002, Green Earth Award – 2004, Full Bright Teacher’s Award – 2005, Principal of the Year Award- 2007 from the Royal Australian Chemical Institute, Australia, Mother Teresa Sadbhavana Award – 2013, Global Education Excellence Award – 2014, Asia Pacific Achiever Award – 2014, Pride of India Education Excellence Award – 2015, Bharat Vidya Vibhushan Samman Puraskar – 2015 and National Development Education Award -2017, World Environmental Education Didactics (WEED) Award – 2017.

At present, Dr. Upendra Kaushik is Chairman, Governing Body, Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan’s Vallabhram Mehta Public School, Vadodara, Member Governing Council, Bhavan’s Education Research Centre, Kochi, Kerala, Member, Management Committee Bhavan’s Leelavati Munshi College of Education, New Delhi, Member, School Management Committee, Bhavan’s Mehta Vidyalaya, K.G. Marg, New Delhi, Member, School Management Committee, Bhavan’s Mehta Vidyashram, Bharwari, Dist. Kaushambi, U.P., Regional Education Officer (North and North-Eastern Region), Shikshan Bharati, Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan, Kasturba Gandhi Marg, New Delhi – 110 001 and Hony. Advisor to Indian Development Foundation, Mumbai.