A Tale of Three Leaders: A Comparative Case Study

School leaders — a term we use to mean principals, coordinators and other formal leaders in a school — have long been held as the most important actors in a school. Administratively as well as academically, school leaders hold a great deal of influence, making them a focal point of education interventions looking to improve schools. At Mantra4Change, we began our journey working with low-fee private schools in Bangalore, aiming to bring systemic change to the schools. When it became clear that schools with motivated leaders were able to improve more quickly, we decided to compare three of our school leaders who displayed different levels of motivation in different areas, to see what insights might emerge about working with different kinds of motivated leaders. The resulting insights reinforce, among other things, the need for leaders to not just welcome outside opportunities to work on themselves, but also to develop the specific interpersonal and professional capacities required to lead a school smoothly and effectively. The insights also make clear that motivation, in and of itself, has little bearing on the kind of leadership that a leader may choose to inhabit.

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