The following seventeen characteristics were gleaned from our research and experience and are embedded in the work we do with schools.

Ways of Thinking

  1. Sees students, teachers, and the broader community as co-creators of the school;
  2. Values authentic learning work that demonstrates to students and staff their own efficacy;
  3. Recognizes that school extends beyond the classroom where students and staff can help solve real problems and contribute to social change;
  4. Taps into the human desire to create, to make meaning, to do important work, and to learn and live in community;

Ways of Doing

  1. Articulates and supports a bold vision of what is possible;
  2. Models passionate commitment to the vision and the organization;
  3. Creates a collaborative culture;
  4. Demonstrates proficiency with language including story, group process, and conversation skills;
  5. Builds reflection into personal and organizational practice:
  6. Builds leadership capacity throughout the organization;
  7. Supports risk-taking and openness to change;
  8. Nurtures personal and organizational resiliency;
  9. Applies systems thinking to the complexity of a learning organization;
  10. Attends to the learning work of every member of the organization;
  11. Embeds an ethic of excellence throughout the organization;
  12. Leads the organization in setting clear goals and plans that will advance the work of the school.
  13. Grounds the work of the district in an ethical and moral dimension.


elevateSeventeen Characteristics of a Transformational Leader