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Effective Leadership: Meaning, Skills and Practices

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Dollarhide and Saginak define participatory leadership as “when one person takes initiative for engaging in the change process, and she or he recruits others with similar vision and dedication to work together toward shared goals”. When a counselor chooses to use participatory leadership, she includes others such as other counselors, teachers and administrators who will equally have a voice in decision making process. The counselor will hand pick those she feels has the same purpose and direction which will result in successful students. Sharing policy making and program design with those who you share a vested interest in strengthens and promotes healthy relationships with your colleagues.

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“Distributed leadership also views leadership as a shared endeavor, but the leadership practices are stretched over multiple leaders”. Instead of having just one leader, the responsibilities are given to multiple leaders who will contribute to the process. All leaders will have an opinion and they can collaborate their goals and desires in a manner that be beneficial for everyone. In utilizing this type of leadership, all colleagues can address differences they are observing while teaching or counseling, whether they are academic or personal/social issues. Coming together, they can address these issues and implement programs or make changes to those that are not effective for the success of students.

An effective leadership plan would begin creating a vision. The committee that has been handpicked by the counselor will meet to decide their vision for the school. Each member will have a voice in what they feel would work best for the school. A vision such as high academic achievement expectations, a safe and secure school, making sure each student has guidance and counseling are a few visions that could be considered. The counselor must make the committee recognize that as one, they should expect the highest standards from their students. If not, then they will be doing the students a great disservice. If the council does not require it, the students won’t work for it. This might be difficult to process because realistically, every student will not reach that expectation, but not to ask for it, would be even worse. It is up to the counselor to reach out to every member to emphasize this fact.

The counselor must continually be thankful for each member. Without them, her “pie in the sky” vision would be impossible. She will need to establish and clarify each one’s roles so they will feel like their voice will be heard. They will be a contributing member. She must give everyone authority to make decisions. She must remember to thank each person at every meeting. People don’t have to volunteer their time and effort but together they can achieve the dream. She must also listen. Listen to every idea each member has and never disregard it as useless. What can sound useless to one, might be the answer to another. A counselor can have her passion to develop a comprehensive school counseling program but without her committee fully understanding her actions and motives, communication can get lost. One must have effective communication skills. Whether it be vocally or email or any other form of communication, she needs everyone to recognize her desires and be on board for successful results. She will collect data to document the progress that is being made through the program. She will monitor achievements whether it be academic or personal/social and continue to boast about the accomplishments.

Overall, effective leadership is not only about one person with developed leadership qualities, it is about a team as a single, integral structure that works harmoniously, and each member of this team possesses certain skills that contribute to the formation of effective leadership.

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Dollarhide, C. T., Saginak, K. A. (2017). Comprehensive school counseling programs: K-12 delivery systems in action. Boston, MA. Pearson

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