Three Cardinal Rules of Administration

As I prepare to reflect on my last year of teaching and my upcoming year of being a school principal, I am excitedly distracted with a learning opportunity that prepares new administrators. Obviously there are a lot of questions that I have and a lot of information that I am trying to absorb and digest. I am sure that some questions will be answered as the SMART RIGHT program proceeds, but I am equally sure that many more questions will arise.

As with any new job, an employee seeks to understand the position, seeks to be informed as to what is expected and most importantly, wants to know what to do to stay afloat and out of trouble.Yesterday evening, as a room full of administrators sat and listened to the outline of our four day session, we were given three Cardinal rules that would make the transition to becoming and remaining an administrator easy.

I am sure that there are many rules, or pieces of advice that will be beneficial, and I welcome your thoughts.   I would however like to share the three rules we were given and briefly explain what they mean to me.

Rule 1 –No surprises
For me this means that you, as an administrator are keeping not only the staff and community aware of what is going on in the school community. However, as a Principal this also means that if there is something happening in the school, within the community or if you have made a mistake give the superintendent the information. Keep division office informed.
Rule 2 – When you delegate responsibility delegate authority.
This, for me means two things. As a leader we often ask colleagues and staff to complete tasks or undertake responsibilities. As we as leaders do this we should also provide the staff with the authority to do so. This authority also individuals to take ownership of what they are doing. Secondly, allowing individuals the responsibility and authority builds leaders and leadership capacity with in the school.
Rule 3 – Good mouth the organization
 Ultimately I work for the division and am accountable to the division, but what is sometimes forgotten is that as Leaders, Administrators and Teachers we are the public relations for that division and organization. Therefore, when speaking be proud of the school and division that you are working for. This is the easiest rule for me as I believe that I work for the best division in the province and am proud and excited about the direction and innovations that we are implementing.
These are my current understandings and thoughts about important elements to keep in mind everyday as an Administrator, however if there are any other ideas or concepts that you are willing to share, please do I look forward to reading and understanding them.

8 thoughts on “Three Cardinal Rules of Administration

  1. Shawn,

    Congratulations on your new position and best of luck to you as you begin this new journey. Though I was a principal for 2 years in another district, I just recently (July 1) became principal of a new school. I wonder if there is a network of ‘newbies’ we can start on Twitter – I would love the chance to check in with people as we begin this very important year.

    Other blog posts you may be interested along the same theme:

    @jvincentsen ‘s Do I Follow My Own Advice?

    @dhatch ‘s Advice to a New Administrator

    @justintarte ‘s The Journey Continues

  2. Best to you, Shawn. Listen more than you speak, be quick and decisive about the small things and patient and reflective about the big ones, and – above all – truly love the people you serve and serve with. You’re gonna be awesome.

  3. I would like to add the fourth cardinal rule in my humble opinion. Find and recognize the value in EVERY staff member and child. 🙂

    Michelle (mom, teacher, and administrator in progress)

  4. Great post Shawn. One thing I do think is importand are your stakeholders. While we do work for the division, they work for the community. That to me is our most important group to be advocates for. We need to make sure that we build positive relationships with all the communities we work for, thst includes your staff. To many admin make the mistake that they are division first and school second. I truly believe that it should always be students first. I wish you the best of luck with your new position.

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