School leaders are ultimately responsible for the management of an educational institution. Their functions include planning and supervising academic and administrative activities, evaluating staff performance and ensuring that standards are met. Recent studies carried out in the United States show that good leaders improve student performance, whilst inefficient heads have the opposite effect.

Consequently, the Best Schools in Spain (BSS) strive to find the best talent to take the helm at their educational centres. Finding excellent leaders, not only in academic terms but also on a personal level, is an arduous but essential task, as leadership is one of the key elements to providing a top-quality education.

Skills and functions of school leaders

The leaders of the Best Schools in Spain all have one thing in common: they are approachable for all members of the educational community, from students and parents to teachers. They have a close relationship with all of them, transmitting a feeling of security and trust that makes them the person to turn to with any problems. This is how they know what changes and measures meet the needs of all those involved in students’ education. Decisions require knowledge and vision, in addition to active listening to the educational community. This way, progress is made towards the end objective of all our schools: to guarantee and offer a top-level and high-quality service.

Leaders are also characterised by their excellent emotional intelligence. According to the British newspaper The Guardian this is a crucial attribute for successful school leaders. This is because the ability to understand and control our emotions also helps us comprehend and manage those of others. Consequently, school leaders work hard to learn about and process their emotions in a healthy way, and do not brush them aside and pretend they do not exist. They also put themselves in the shoes of their teaching staff in order to understand their emotions and help them overcome any negative feelings.

The ability to formulate a vision is another key skill of the leaders of the Best Schools in Spain. This translates into the ability to shape the future, instead of being moulded or passively carried along by transformations in the educational field. A school leader’s vision is often the catalyst that brings people together. Consequently, they formulate a cohesive vision that challenges everyone to give their all. This helps each centre to move forward as one, following the same path and working together to face up to the continuous and necessary changes in education, always to the benefit of their students.

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Communication, leadership and the ability to motivate

A school’s strategy — as well as, to a large extent, teacher engagement and the growth of talent within the school — is in the hands of its leaders. Therefore, they must be capable of creating an atmosphere that allows all members of staff to develop, which in turn allows the school to progress. The Best Schools in Spain are at the forefront of education in Spain. Their motto is continuous improvement, and a leader that manages this growth is therefore fundamental.

Teamwork is an essential part of school life. To be successful in this sense, merely having a good vision and a solid plan of daily work in the school is not enough. These aspects must also be transmitted. The approach must be presented in a way that engages, motivates and convinces staff, and that makes life and progress in the school possible. Communication plays an essential role in this aim, as well as in explaining orders, ways of working and lines of action. A school leader must be capable of taking on complicated situations and solving problems. Consequently, successful headteachers must possess advanced communication skills. 

Drawing inspiration from democratic leadership, school leaders are also firm yet flexible. They understand that they must value their colleagues’ contributions in order to build a good team. As good leaders, they take decisions, inspire the members of the team, establish common goals and have the respect and support of everyone in the educational centre. Furthermore, they neither impose themselves nor blend into the background. Instead, they support debate and the sharing of opinions to take the most appropriate decisions for the school’s activity.

Finally, they understand that being a leader does not just mean being capable of making decisions; it also involves knowing how to motivate teachers and build their trust so they know how valuable they are to the school and that, without them, it would be impossible to provide students with a top-quality education.

In conclusion, the leaders of the Best Schools in Spain are understanding and approachable individuals with excellent communication skills. All of these aspects allow them to stay on top of what’s happening in their schools and quickly adapt to any changes to meet the needs of the entire educational community. Talent is the source of success at the Best Schools in Spain, from the leadership of school heads to the engagement, knowledge, and ability to innovate of all the teachers that provide the best education to our students.