Leadership in a PLC Culture: It May Cause You to Re-Examine Your Leadership Style

Leading a school of fish.

Being a school or district leader in a PLC requires you to take a good, hard look in the mirror of leadership. Here are some questions to ask yourself when you do look in that mirror.

1. Do I have a clear vision of what I want my school/district to become? The most successful PLC cultures have a leader who can communicate a compelling vision for the future and a leader who does not deviate, or let others deviate, from pursuing that vision.

2. Are my strengths in the area of instructional leadership or program management? A PLC culture demands leaders who are committed to high levels of learning for each child and leaders who are well versed in instructional initiatives.

3. Do I have to have the answers to every question; know how to solve every issue; resolve every conflict? An effective PLC leader understands the need for shared leadership, precisely because he or she recognizes that the best solutions come when a team of people engages in shared learning, puts all options or viewpoints on the table, and comes to consensus about a decision that supports the mission and vision of the organization.

4. Am I willing to examine every policy, procedure, and practice of the organization to make sure that high levels of learning for all students drive out work? In a PLC culture, master schedules, transportation, food services, or “the way we have always done it” give way to “what will have the most positive impact on student learning” when policies, procedures, and schedules are created.

I have found 3 books published by Solution Tree particularly helpful when a leader looks in the leadership mirror:

  • Leaders of Learning by Richard DuFour and Robert Marzano combines the philosophy behind being a PLC leader with specific strategies and practices implemented by an instructional leader.
  • The Five Disciplines of PLC Leaders by Timothy Kanold describes five distinct disciplines that an effective PLC leader adopts and practices to ensure the culture and practices necessary to embed the PLC model into a school or district.
  • Leading by Design by Cassandra Erkens and Eric Twadell uses a systems approach to describe seven leadership practices of highly effective PLC leaders and to show how those seven leadership practices are interconnected and related.

The message to teachers in an effective PLC is that the work is too complex to rely on the personal expertise of even the most experienced teacher. The same is true for leaders of a PLC. The work is so complex and interdependent that the leader must reach out to colleagues to ensure the organization is ensuring high levels of learning for all students. The “colleagues” a leader meets in these three books are good companions along the PLC journey.


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Solution Tree

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