NEW Leadership Role - 3 Great Questions to Get You Started

NEW Leadership Role – 3 Great Questions to Get You Started


New leadership postion?  Feeling overwhelmed trying to determine: 

  • Priorities?
  • Which problems are the worst and most important to tackle?
  • How to get a grip on what’s really going on and where to best focus my time and energy?
  • What questions should I ask to guide my transition?

We’ve all been down that road!  As a former middle school and central office leader in a large urban district, I have been the new “gal” in charge on numerous occasions and wished I had an easy strategy to get quick answers to the above questions.  But as experienced leaders well understand, a new job transition brings unique challenges with no quick, easy answers,  AND how well you get started on a new job really does matter!


Start with these three questions

A colleague of mine, Dr. Vic Shandor, Area Superintendent in the Fulton County, GA school district developed these three strategic questions to get started when beginning a new leadership role involving direct reports:  


  • What are the barriers to moving your school to the next level (i.e. improving student achievement, etc.)?
  • Who “owns” each of these barriers and which ones should be the top priority for owner(s) to address?  Once direct reports (i.e. principals) and new leader agree on who owns each barrier, leader builds an action plan to address the top priority barriers which he/she owns.  Action plan = “What needs to be done to remove/reduce barrier?  Who needs to do it?  What’s the timeline?”  This action plan is then communicated to direct reports.
  • When these barriers are eliminated or reduced, what changes should I (the new leader) expect to see in the school?  That is, what differences will be identifiable in moving school to next level…at the end of six months?  One year?


These questions, modified from TregoED’s ( Situation Appraisal process, give new leaders a systematic approach that has been used effectively by education the last 16 years, and business/industry leaders ( for over 50 years.    Vic’s questions will give him a great starting point, involve his stakeholders and result in a plan that makes sense for his district.


I’m curious to know how other leaders have used good questions to help the transition to a new role!  Do you have any good questions or strategies to share?




Views: 553

Comment by Brian Schultz on May 5, 2012 at 5:11pm

Great questions Dr. Shandor! This is a great way to create a narrow list of actionable items that will have a large and immediate impact in your system.

Comment by Kathy Blackburn on May 7, 2012 at 8:01am

Good point, Brian.  And.....principals will know that their most critical issues have been "heard" and are being addressed as appropriate.  I'm anxious to hear how other leaders have determined priorities when entering a new position!

Comment by Alicia Tate on May 15, 2012 at 8:36am
I particulary like question three---helps move from "best practice" to "next practice" and ensures a plan for continued change/growth
Comment by Sandra Wozniak on May 17, 2012 at 8:57am

I also like question three because it builds in accountability.


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