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Why Mission Leadership Matters


A friend of mine recently asked me, “What is mission leadership?” In answering her question, I focused on what it means to me and why it’s so important in education, as well as in the business world. Mission leadership is a focused, holistic approach to leadership. It centers on what the real vision is for the organization, the mission it is seeking to advance, where the organization came from and more importantly, where it is moving to.

Mission centered leadership is about not losing sight of the big picture. In education, just as in other realms, there are so many things to distract us from the central mission, test scores, budgets, a confrontational encounter; but the key to mission leadership is to handle those parts of daily decision making without being deterred from the mission of your school community. Being centered on the mission keeps us focused on what needs to be done. The how and when needs to happen in the hands of a competent team, but the what is laid out in a clearly articulated mission by the leader.

So, that’s the “what” of mission leadership. Now comes the “why.” There is a direct correlation between leadership and student achievement. Teachers perform at their optimal level when they feel respected by leaders and know that they are an important part of the mission. Research has shown that teachers who are invested in the mission, following the focus set by mission centric leadership, have higher rates of job satisfaction and morale, and perform at a level that directly impacts student achievement. A study funded by the Wallace Foundation, in 2004, examined leadership and how various styles affected teacher performance, thereby impacting student achievement, with mission focused leadership providing positive gains for students.

Mission leadership matters because the focus on the big picture can actually prevent some of the distractions that deter us from our mission centered leadership. Improved student performance due to optimal teaching means less time spent worrying and more time focused on what's important. Its a "win-win" situation. So, while our schools may not look like NASA’s “Mission Command,” we are in control and as we start the school year, our mission should be ready to launch!

Karen Jakuback, Ed.D.

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#mission #leadership #education #vision