- Excellent Communicator and Relationship Builder
- Think Critically
- Make Sound and Swift Decisions
- Ability to Solve Problems
A person who wants to work in education administration should be aware of these five characteristics of a successful school superintendent. A school superintendent is typically responsible for the operations of multiple schools within one district, and the principals, teachers, administrative staff and building staff are all supervised, hired and disciplined by the superintendent. Understanding these five key characteristics of superintendents is a good way to determine if this is the right career path for an individual.
Excellent Communicator and Relationship Builder
School superintendents need to be excellent at communicating and building relationships. On any given day, a superintendent might meet with state education officials, members of the school board, the school treasurer, a principal, members of the media and vendors who supply products. They may also have to meet with concerned parents or members of the community. Superintendents often take on a public role, speaking in public and to the media about what is going on in the district and what improvements are in the works.
A successful school superintendent must be able to think critically. For example, all states require certain standardized testing to take place, and they rank and fund schools based on those results. A school superintendent should be able to review the results of student testing and determine which corrective actions to take if those results are below expectations. School superintendents should also be able to recommend and implement procedures that are evidence-based in order to make improvements in the processes of educating students. They have to look at a lot of options and choose the best one for their students.
Make Sound and Swift Decisions
School superintendents need to be comfortable with the decision-making process. They often have to make difficult decisions, such as what to cut when there is a budget deficit. A school superintendent may also need to make sound decisions about district priorities. Because school superintendents are responsible for students, school staff and facilities, they have to make sound decisions based on a multitude of factors. They must consider ethics, money, safety and more when making their decisions.
School superintendents are the leaders of the school district. They are often the public face of the school district. They must be able to represent the school district in a way that is becoming and positive. The teachers, administrative staff, facilities staff and principals who work in the district look to the superintendent to be a leader. They expect the superintendent to set goals, policies and procedures that are evidence-based and ethical. They also turn to the superintendent for motivation and an example of how to conduct themselves in the classroom and at professional events.
Ability to Solve Problems
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, school superintendents should also have a solid ability to solve problems. On one day, a superintendent might have to deal with a conflict with the school board. Another day, they may have to administer a budget that is not sufficient for the school district’s goals or mission. On the next day, a superintendent might have to discipline an employee or resolve a conflict between a school principal and a school teacher.
Related Resource: Master’s in Educational Leadership
School superintendents have usually worked as teachers, school principals or other education professionals or administrators in order to gain experience and hone these five personality traits. These are not the only helpful characteristics that a successful school superintendent should have, but they are solid predictors of success in this profession. Being familiar with the five characteristics of a successful school superintendent makes it easier for a person to decide if this is a career path they want to take.