5 Great Characteristics of a School Principal

  • Excellent Communication
  • Critical-thinking Skills
  • Rapid Decision-making Skills
  • Problem-solving Capabilities
  • Strong Interpersonal Skills

In order to be a success, there are several key characteristics of a school principal that are essential. School principals deal with a variety of urgent situations and need to be ready to respond at a moment’s notice. When hiring a principal, keep these top five characteristics in mind.

1. Excellent Communication

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, one of the top characteristics of a school principal is excellent communication skills. The principal must be able to communicate in a way that everyone can understand. Some of the students and parents at the school may speak English as a second language. Principals should recognize topics as well as particular words or phrases that might be offensive and avoid them. A school principal must be equipped to communicate effectively through writing and speaking. People should feel like the principal listens to them when they talk. This is true whether the person is a kindergarten student or the school board president.

2. Critical-thinking Skills

Principals are often rated on how well the students at the school perform on particular standardized tests. They should be able to review test scores and work to make improvements. School principals need to be able to evaluate the overall learning process and make changes in order to improve it. For example, the principal of an elementary school might institute a reading buddy system so that emerging readers can develop their skills.

3. Rapid Decision-making Skills

School principals must be able to make sound decisions about urgent situations in a minimum amount of time. For example, a school principal might need to decide whether or not to close the building when the weather is unfavorable. They will also need to have strong decision-making skills for long-term concerns. A lot of factors may go into the long-term decisions, and a principal should feel comfortable with gathering input, evaluating it and making a decision that is best for the whole.

4. Problem-solving Capabilities

All kinds of problems come up in a school. From students who experience disciplinary issues to facilities management needs, a principal needs to be able to solve a wide variety of problems. The principal should be able to efficiently analyze the problem, develop an appropriate solution and implement it with the available resources. The principal should also be able to work with others in order to solve problems. For example, a school principal may need to work with the school’s police resource officer in order to handle disciplinary and criminal concerns.

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5. Strong Interpersonal Skills

Strong interpersonal skills are also important characteristics of a school principal. A school principal has to be comfortable working with teachers, administrative staff, the school board, the state department of education, parents, students and the community. Within these groups, there may be people from a variety of cultural backgrounds who have different opinions on how the school should operate. The principal needs to take everyone’s input into account in order to establish positive working relationships.

People who have all five of these traits, as well as the necessary education, experience and passion for the job, will do well at being school principals. These qualities are good signs that a person is ready to handle this important and often stressful type of work. Keep in mind that these are not the only characteristics of a school principal, but they are essential to success at doing the job.