The School Leadership Triangle: From Compliance to Innovation

Paul L. Kimmelman
Corwin Publishing
2010

Education is fundamentally a compliance-driven industry, explains Paul Kimmelman. Between federal, state, and district rules and regulations, teachers and administrators are always being told what to do. So how can school leaders do a better job within those constraints? That’s what he sets out to answer with this leadership manual, complete with chapter-end discussion questions. His framework is a simple triangle: compliance, leadership, and innovation. He starts by urging leaders to stop complying and complaining and start leading and innovating; rather than accepting the imperfect system and trucking along as usual, school leaders should think about how to work around compliance structures, which frankly aren’t going away. Then he tackles what that leadership will look like, by outlining some of the fundamentals of leadership theory and urging leaders to think more about contextualizing their leadership decisions in terms of their intended audience. In other words, instead of using the same style in every situation, leaders should think about who is listening and adapt accordingly. Finally, Kimmelman addresses how to get leaders thinking more about innovation, from sitting down to identify each problem to piloting a solution. Overall, though the writing is meandering and tangential at points, the framework is useful and pragmatic. School leaders who want to stop complying and complaining should take note. Buy a copy here.

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