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“Where do you see yourself in five year’s time?” A principal was taken aback by the first-year teacher’s response to this question. “I intend to be the head of my department.” When asked what she would be doing to achieve that very ambitious goal, the teacher looked nonplussed. To her, the promotion was a natural progression requiring little input from her. The principal gently pointed out that promotion generally came after years of developing and mastering the qualities needed for educational leadership. What are these qualities?

1 The basics.

When it comes to promotion, qualities like work ethic, productivity and attitude are all crucial. Educational leaders are good teachers, they are diligent, painstaking, efficient and keen to contribute to the mission of the school. Ethics, values, organisation and respect must be there to start with.

2 Desire to do more.

Candidates for promotion usually have positive dissatisfaction – they are positive about their job but know that they could be doing more.

3 Competence.

A promotion often brings a significant rise in both the level and quantity of work. A good candidate will already have demonstrated the successful relevant prior experience that provides the solid platform of knowledge and confidence needed for greater responsibilities.

4 Big picture thinking.

Sound specialist knowledge and experience are vital but so is the ability to look beyond your subject boundaries to the school as a whole. Good candidates for promotion take a keen interest in educational issues, especially those that lead to school improvement. People who are solutions-focused and can think beyond their patch are on the right track for promotion.

5 Conscientiousness.

Conscientiousness predicts performance perhaps more than any other personality trait. If candidates are thorough, organised and efficient, they are usually prepared to take on further responsibility.

**6 Self-direction.

Teachers who sit around waiting to be told what to do next are unlikely to be considered for more senior roles. Taking the initiative, seeing what needs to be done and being self-reliant are crucial behaviours that show readiness for promotion.

7 Learning agility.

Often the more senior the role, the less defined it is. People who need a detailed list of tasks and how to do them are unlikely to be promoted. On the other hand, those who can cope with ambiguity and uncertainty and see the path they can forge ahead are ready for more responsibility.

8 Leadership

Leaders combine a strong ethical understanding and a commitment to uphold high professional standards both by example and by direct action.

9 Consideration for others.

While schools value confidence, ambition and enthusiasm, being so competitive you leave people in your wake is no way to advance. Leaders learn how to balance their competitive enthusiasm and energy with authentic and empathetic engagement with others.

8. Positive energy.

People who exhibit and evoke positive emotions in their working relationships are the most successful leaders. This doesn’t mean being happy and bouncy all the time but teachers with positive energy motivate others through their curiosity, enthusiasm, courage and sense of purpose. Their colleagues want to work with them.

By showing ambitious teachers the path to promotion, principals can ensure they can start early in their career to work on the qualities needed for advancement.

How do you expert to gain promotion and what are you doing to facilitate this?

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