Leadership in System Changes: How to Be Successful

Leadership and system changes are both interdependent – one cannot make out without the other. But to initiate shifts in the system, one has to be an effective leader that means to obtain certain characteristics.

These characteristics are:

  1. Mobilize-ability. Having strong communication skills, being good at forming meaningful messages and getting them across, finding ways to motivate a team, being a listener and being always ready to consider a team’s views on ways to initiate a shift.
  2. Know-ability. Being trusted because of high professional skills and knowledge, knowing how to manage work process and share responsibilities as well as available resources.
  3. Sustain-ability. Creating an atmosphere of trust and inspiration in a team and building strong relationships between its members (Preparing Principals and Developing School Leadership Associations for the 21st, 2014, p. 14).
  4. Appreciating human resources. Knowing that a change can be achieved only through consolidated efforts of all team members (Rahschulte, 2007).
  5. Being pro-active. Being willing to change the environment in a team if it is a necessary step in a changing system. Moreover, being the one initiating such shifts.
  6. Being a risk-taker. Understanding that changing a system is impossible without taking risks and is being responsible for decisions in which one is creative and innovative.
  7. Having a vision. Knowing what an ultimate target is and how to achieve it (Tomei, 2009).

To initiate system changes, a leader should choose an effective strategy for achieving a goal. In general, there are two kinds of strategies – top-down and bottom-up. The main difference between the two is that in top-down strategies all decisions are made by those who are on a higher level of hierarchy while in the case of bottom-up strategies they are made by the ones who are working in the system and are thought to know what is to be changed in it (Horn, 2002). To my mind, neither of these strategies is successful per se; only a combination of two can result in a real change. And to combine them in a creative and innovative way, there has to be a strong leader gathering opinions of both sides and carrying out decisions based on them.

So, to change the system, there have to be effective leaders on every level being ready to initiate such shifts innovatively and creatively, having a strong vision and knowing what exactly should be done to achieve his ultimate target.


Horn, R. (2002). Understanding Educational Reform: A Reference Handbook (Contemporary Education Issues). Santa Barbara, Calif: ABC-Clio.

Preparing Principals and Developing School Leadership Associations for the 21st Century. (2014). Web.

Rahschulte, T. Understanding how to Change: An Inductive Determination of how Agents of State Government Plan, Lead, and Sustain Change. (2007). Virginia Beach, VA: Regent University.

Tomei, L. A. (2009). Designing Instruction for the Traditional, Adult, and Distance Learner: A New Engine for Technology-based Teaching. Hershley, Pa: Information Science Reference.

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