10 Traits of Highly Effective Principals

1. The Communicator – a genuine and open human being with the capacity to listen, empathize, interact and connect with individual students, parents and teachers in productive, helping and healing ways, as well as the ability to teach, present and motivate people in larger group settings.

2. The Educator – a self-directed instructional leader with a strong intellect and personal depth of knowledge regarding research-based curriculum, instruction and learning who motivates and facilitates the intellectual growth and development of self, students, teachers and parents.

3. The Envisioner – an individual who is motivated by a sense of calling and purpose, focused on a vision of what schools can be, and guided by a mission that has the best interests of all students at its core.

4. The Facilitator – a leader with outstanding human relations skills that include the abilities to build individual relationships with parents, teachers and students; collaborative teams with staff members and parents; and a school wide community of leaders.

5. The Change Master – a flexible, futuristic and realistic leader, able to motivate as well as manage change in an organized, positive and enduring fashion.

6. The Culture Builder – an individual who communicates (talks) and models (walks) a strong and viable vision based on achievement, character, personal responsibility and accountability.

7. The Activator – an individual with gumption (e.g., drive, motivation, enthusiasm, energy, spunk and humor) enough to share with staff, parents and students.

8. The Producer – a results-oriented individual with a strong sense of accountability to taxpayers, parents, students and teachers who translates high expectations into intellectual development and academic achievements for all students.

9. The Character Builder – a role model whose values, words and deeds are marked by trustworthiness, integrity, authenticity, respect, generosity and humility.

10. The Contributor – a servant-leader, encourager and enabler whose utmost priority is making a contribution to the success of others.


From Ten Traits of Highly Effective Principals: From Good to Great Performanceby Elaine McEwan (2003).

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