Length of Leadership

Length of Leadership

To collect my thoughts on this topic, I looked to the government leadership in Canada and the United States of America, which have differing regulations on the length of their leadership as Prime Minister, and President, respectively. It is my understanding that the Canadian prime minister does not have a “term life”, or a limit as to his/her length of leadership. The Prime Minister serves at the Queen’s pleasure, or “her Majesty’s pleasure”. It is my understanding that only one American president, Franklin D. Roosevelt, has served more than two terms (four, the final term being brief due to his death), with each term normally comprised of four years. In 1947, the 22nd amendment was signed, limiting the maximum length of a president’s tenure to two terms (maximum of eight years). You can make your own argument whether this is related to the length of an administrator in the education system.

I believe there are cases where administrators can be effective in, only the short term, and other cases where administrators could be effective over a great length of time. There will always be outliers in both cases, dependant on the community, staff, students, and the leader’s experience in administration. Upon reading Malcolm Gladwell’s latest book, “David and Goliath”, I reference my reflection to the inverted “U” he writes about. Gladwell relates class sizes to academic achievement, and finds that classes between 18 and 24 students experience the greatest academic achievement. Classes below 18 students do not learn as much from their peers, and some students feel vulnerable. In classes above 24 students, the class turned into an audience as opposed to a team.

I believe the tenure of an administrator would be similar to this inverted U, of which I will not put any exact numbers in. The first year, or the first few years an administrator is learning, observing, gaining valuable experience in their job, and this would be the left side of the inverted U. After those initial years, they are moving toward the climax of their potential, and the point they get to their prime is the top of the inverted U. The prime of their career does not have to be short (one year), but may last many years. However, eventually, I believe their effect will gradually become stagnant, and their leadership will decline, and this is the right side of the inverted U. The totality of this curve may happen over the course of four years, eight years, or any length of time. The President of the United States has a maximum of eight years (Obama is currently in his second term, while the Prime Minister of Canada does not have a maximum (Stephen Harper has held office since 2006).

I am sure each of you have an example that would contradict what I have written, through your experience as a student, teacher, or administrator. As an avid hockey fan, the motto is that “coaches are hired to be fired”, and rarely do you see a National Hockey League coach last longer than eight years (Lindy Ruff would be an outlier). However, in education, I consider longevity in administration to be a huge compliment to that school, that community, and everyone involved in that leadership team. Therefore, I do not believe there should be a set number years for an administrator to hold their position.


About davidschroeder

I am a 30 year old substitute teacher in Whitehorse, Y.T. I am currently looking for a teaching job, while taking my graduate studies in Educational Administration through Brandon University.

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