The Top Skills You Need to Have
as a School Manager

See also: Teaching Skills

Leading a school is no easy job.

There's a lot of responsibility that you are invested in. Although it may seem that your responsibility is limited to imparting the best quality of education to young minds, it trickles down a lot deeper. You are not only training young minds here. You are building the mindset of the future of a nation here.

However, there is no need to feel overwhelmed.

If you are looking to hone your leadership skills as a school manager, you are already on the right track. Building a school of achievers can be made easier than you think. All you need is the right kind of skills.

This article reveals the top skills that a school manager should seek to develop.

Happy school children in class

Top 5 skills that can make you a better school manager

The inner management of a school is no doubt chaotic. From deciding the teacher to pupil ratio, subject planning, to time optimization, a lot goes into shaping a functional school. To do this right you will need multiple hard skills.

However, truth be told, keeping up with the management drill is hard even with the hard skills. You need more.

To ensure you can optimize your hard skills for consistency and efficiency, you need complementary soft skills — skills that can help you to be a natural leader.

In the following section, we demystify the top five soft skills that you can use to achieve this ambitious goal.

1. Be Mindful

If there is one quality that can set you on the path of becoming a pro manager, it is awareness.

Ask a simple question of yourself. How observation-oriented are you in life? Do your eyes catch what others miss? If not, you need to start being mindful now.

However, staying alert isn't a unilateral function. There are multiple layers at work here.

But if you are to start, here are a few areas you can start with.

  • Self-awareness

    The key to consistent growth and improvement lies in the acceptance of reality.

    If you are unable to understand where your strengths and vulnerabilities lie, overcoming difficulties would become next to impossible. This makes self-awareness critical in your journey to becoming a leader.

    By being aware of yourself, you not only are more susceptible to creating an environment that is designed for growth but can defend yourself during uncertain situations.

  • Authentic leadership

    True leadership is all about being true to yourself. If you fail to embrace your unique, authentic self, creating sustainable value for the people who are getting affected by your decisions can potentially suffer.

    However, you can fix this in no time.

    Try to be the best version of yourself, instead of a copy of someone else.

    To do this right, find out what drives you. What are your core values? Your core values can help you shape the values of the educational organization that you are to manage.

    Staying true to yourself ensures you never lack confidence and conviction.

  • Emotional intelligence

    Emotional intelligence is one of the core signs of an effective leader.

    If you can't manage your emotions and stay emotionally resilient in disrupted times, chances are your work will suffer and so too will your students. But the path to developing emotional resilience comes through accepting and addressing that you are experiencing a cognitive issue.

    Along with your emotional resilience, you need to ensure that your students are in good cognitive shape. However, if you do not have the emotional maturity to trace disturbances in your students, helping them navigate their emotions better will be a distant dream.

    This makes empathy a key quality of a leader.

Young businesswomen with notebooks in an office.

2. Be open to critical feedback

When was the last time you reflected upon your activity because someone shared their personal take on it?

More importantly, what was your approach towards it? Did you react or just act?

Being open to feedback is a vital way that you get to improve on your management and leadership skills today.

In an age where sustainability is driven by innovation and creativity, being open to third-person views can broaden your perspective. It can help you stay resilient and be proactive in critical situations.

However, there are a few traits that indicate your openness to critical feedback.

  • Listen more, talk less

    Deep learning happens when you engage in deep listening.

    The more you stay an active listener to what others have to say, the more open you are to opportunities for improvement.

    Moreso, tracing the root cause of problems becomes easier. Your measures can then be preventive instead of reactive.

  • Validate assumptions

    While listening is an important quality, as a leader you also need to know what feedback to work upon and what to stay clear off.

    Decluttering your mind from unconstructive feedback is an equally important leadership discipline. This makes validating the feedback important. If the feedback is universal, you can assess its validity.

    On the contrary, if the feedback is subjective, there are high chances that those are the words of someone's whims. In such cases, careful inspection is required.

3. Own your actions

Accountability is one of the key traits of a masterful leader.

The fact that they take complete responsibility for their actions gives them the ability to combat any critical situation and come out winning it.

However, to understand how well you stand on this soft skill, there are a few traits that you need to follow.

  • Acknowledgment

    Having the courage to admit your own mistakes is the first step towards successfully eradicating problems from your institute. As they say, 'failure is the pillar of success.'

    Admitting your mistakes gives you an opportunity to learn from them and ensure they do not happen in the future.

    The best part is you can design organizational protocols that can ensure that they are always at bay. Moreover, you deliver a positive message to your operations team of a productive, unbiased work culture.

  • Self-understanding and management

    Brightwheel billing screenshot.

    One of the most critical tasks of a school leader is to manage assets and students efficiently. This makes building a flexible mindset for modern leaders a critical task.

    Today's leadership is all about embracing change and making the most out of it. This means being tech-savvy and eco-friendly is a must.

    Instead of sticking to traditional modes of management, you need to adapt to new, innovative ways.

    For example, if you need to create a smooth administration for your school, you can always use efficient software instead of traditional papers. Brightwheel's software for school management is one such powerful software that can help you manage your school better.

    However, your management journey doesn't end here.

    Successful leaders have a steady grasp over understanding themselves.

    They are not afraid of asking hard questions. This makes them agile policy builders who ensure that the whole organization stays strong even in disruptive times.

4. Be a thinker

A leader is a proactive thinker.

They invest a lot of energy and time thinking about the problem before taking action.

This helps them to analyze and understand the problem better and come up with the optimal methods to solve them. Sometimes this can be achieved in less time than you may have thought. However, thinking productively is often a challenge.

However, there are a few habits that you can inculcate that can ensure you are on the right path.

  • Engage in reflective thinking

    The road to transforming your educational institute into a winning venture goes through introspection.

    Taking out the time to reflect upon your own actions will not only boost your personal growth but help to understand block patterns in your activities.

    Moreover, you can potentially find gaps where you can improve.

5. Stay focused on the vision

No great leadership has been realized without a vision guiding it.

Having a clear vision of what you are to achieve with your school leadership will help you achieve in the best way possible. More so, it will help you to navigate through tough times.

Developing a why will give you a reason and drive to do what you do even when it is a grill. It will help you develop your grit. However, to do so effectively, here are a few ways that you can adapt.

  • Communicate your vision

    Actualizing your vision is no one-person job. You need more than one person to foster a change.

    This makes effective communication of your vision amongst your team members a key ingredient for successful leadership.

    For this, you would need to master the art of storytelling.

  • Mentorship qualities

    Two people having a meeting an a booth.

    One of the key reasons why a pupil might seek you out is to coach them on how to develop a mindset that can help them develop resilience in even tough times. This makes mentoring skills one of the most sought-after skills in a good leader.

    However, mentoring your students is much more than sharing strategies and growth hacks. It requires skillful management and understanding of personalities and relationships.

    To do so right, start by building trust amongst your mentees and ensuring they are comfortable sharing their vulnerabilities.

    Staying psychologically aware here can improve your understanding by exponents here.

Further Reading from Skills You Need

The Skills You Need Guide to Leadership

The Skills You Need Guide to Leadership eBooks

Learn more about the skills you need to be an effective leader.

Our eBooks are ideal for new and experienced leaders and are full of easy-to-follow practical information to help you to develop your leadership skills.


Leadership is a powerful quality. It is one of the cornerstone ingredients to foster a greater tomorrow.

What is rarer is defining great leadership.

If you wish to take a clinical approach here, take into consideration all the greatest leaders around the globe. They all have certain qualities that are identical or similar.

The above skills are the ones that you most commonly find in them.

If you start investing your time in inculcating these skills, there is a high chance you will be on your way to becoming the manager whom you idealize.