Mentoring – PRINCIPAL – AS LEADER

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This interview is part of a series of responses from eminent academician. Dr. Ashok Kumar
Pandey, Principal, Ahlcon International School, (Global Perspective, Indian Values) responds to the questions of Principals about effective qualities of‘Principal as Leader

Ms. Renuka Sahani
Principal, Akshara School, Nellore, AP

Q: What is the responsibility of schools to lead wider social transformation?
A: There is a contrary view that the schools are reflection of the society and therefore
schools are not in a position to transform societies. I, however, believe that schools are
mandated to promote culture, higher values, social responsibility, citizenship and lifelong
learning. Schools are nurseries and incubators for future thinkers, leaders, activists,
professionals, artists and humanists. The responsibility of the schools is clearly defined.
Society, governments, social organisations look up to the schools to engage with the community in the promotion of social messages. Currently school children are actively engaged in campaigning and advocating clean India, Beti Bachao Beti Padhao, Safe driving, Anti Tobacco drive and Sustainable Development Goals. Many a times, children are very effective and persuasive in changing the mindset of the elders around them. In fact, I would urge that schools take more pronounced stand for issues impacting societies.

Mr. Rajesh Pillai
Principal, Our Own School, Patna

Q: How can we re-narrate our experiences to bring new insights to our understanding of
leadership?
A: Influence and effectiveness of the leader flows from the value you add to the organisation
and the kind of ‘person’ you are and not from the ‘position’ you hold. Leadership is personal.
How generous you are with your time, support and expertise will determine the success of the organisation. New age leadership requires a hands-on, next-door, mentor and not a remote, inaccessible, invisible leader as a casual visitor. New insights suggest that leaders must not shy away from asking right questions and obtaining right feedback to help them detect sign of weaknesses in the system. I personally believe that the moral courage, accountability and transparency exhibited by the leaders are more important than anything else.

Ms. Nanda Kulkarni
Principal, Sunrise School, Mumbai

Q: How do leaders become activists to create actual changes in the schools?
A: I get where you are coming from! ‘Activists’ may not be the right expression here. What we look for is early adapters and torch bearers of change. Leadership is about anticipating where the next change lies. How to get there? What resources, networks and collaborations are needed? Managing change that positively impacts learning and creates value for the stakeholders is an art and great leaders must invest in mastering it. Great leaders look for right feedback to work on weak links.

Mr. Akhilesh
Principal, Satwik High School, Bhubaneswar

Q: Why aren’t people more willing to accept alternative (especially more democratic)
leadership styles?
A: So, you are suggesting that more and more people practice authoritarian style in their
leadership. It is unfortunate. There is no alternative to democratic, participative leadership
premised on delegation, trust and collaboration. Leaders must see the advantages of this style. It is also important to recognise the consequences of authoritarianism. Only some people will like to do what they are told to. Only a few will accept ‘commands’. In the 21st Century team work and collaboration is the narrative of an organisation’s culture.

Ms. Komala
Principal, Oakwood International School, Coimbatore

Q: What is the relationship between institutions of popular culture and leadership issues in
schools?
A: Institutions of popular culture are places where tradition, cultures, faiths and beliefs,
music, art and other social perspectives are nurtured and incubated. These institutions act as
laboratories to develop leadership in these areas. Purpose of holistic education is to prepare
the children for workplace and life and that includes appreciation for popular culture,
understanding people, attitude, ideas and beliefs. With workplaces becoming global and multi- cultural, experience in popular culture is becoming very significant. School leadership must develop connections and networks to broaden the scope of education to include the larger context.

Mrs. Rachna Bhattacharjee
Principal, Unicent School, Nagole, Hyderabad

Q: How can a leader serve the interests of the communities and not be fired for failing to
serve the interests of the institution?
A: There is no interest involved of the community that comes in conflict with the interest of
the institution. Schools are meant to serve the community through the children and various
other outreach programmes. School leaders must observe utmost care and caution to avoid any personal interest of conflict. Nothing should be done even remotely which could be
misconstrued. Tree plantation, arranging a health and wellness talk, arranging blood donation, eye-check up camps, promotion of heritage and culture are all community outreach programmes. Well, in the interest of the question, I would suggest that the school principals keep the school management in loop all the time.

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