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Leaders or Managers: A principal’s dilemma

Published : Friday, 23 September, 2022 at 12:00 AM  Count : 752
Mohammed Zaber Hossain

In Bangladesh, the idea of principal leadership is still in its infancy. This is more evident in Bangladeshi schools and colleges where the position of a principal is seen as a management one. Principals are often thought of as managers or administrators rather than leaders. Even educationists in Bangladesh are yet to acknowledge principal leadership. The National Academy for Education and Management (NAEM) and Teachers' Training Colleges (TTC) in Bangladesh place a high premium on managementin their curricula for the training of principals.

Many academics contend that management and leadership are separate concepts. The two vary considerably from one another. While leading is having an impact on people and developing a vision for change, managing entails completing tasks and mastering routines. The oft-quoted phrase "Managers are people who do things right and leaders are individuals who do the right thing" makes this point extremely apparent. The distinction between those who grasp the context and those who submit to it best describes the difference between leadership and management.

Vision, which is founded on philosophy, values, and beliefs, inspires leadership and directs policy, daily operations, and innovation. It takes the form of strategic planning, which develops from introspection. Active engagement in teaching, healthy connections, excellent communication, and high expectations for rising professionalism are what set management apart.

The UK Department of Education in a booklet entitled Developing Management Skills, echoes this view, identifying management as about the tasks of the present including planning, organizing, coordinating and controlling, and leadership as concerned with vision and influencing the future. Leaders, therefore, tend to have a longer-range perspective, a vision of the future, a picture of what their organization will look like in, say, three or five years' time.

The core function of management is related to ensure order and consistency in an organization. On the other hand, leadership's role is to effect change. In other words, leadership inspires change and impacts others around it. Here, vision is crucial in defining the difference between management and leadership. It is true that these two ideas often overlap. In reality, a leader performs the duties of a manager in terms of planning, organizing, staffing, and regulating in addition to his primary responsibilities such as guiding, motivating, and inspiring others.

Learning about principal leadership is a significant step forward for education in a nation. Principals at Bangladeshi schools and colleges oscillate between management and leadership.As the head of the institution, they feel their position within the parameters of a leader. On the other hand, the attitudes and practices of the educational administration in Bangladesh make principals feel their position within the parameters of a manager. Even the Governing Body (GB), which is a local and direct higher authority, feels like it has shackled the principals.

However, management and leadership are two different and independent concepts. Principals are leaders because they work with a vision. They lead schools and colleges to the future. In Bangladesh, principals face a lot of challenges which are barriers of flourishing their leadership. It is time we acknowledged principal leadership and took up the educational challenges for leading in 21st century.

Following recommendations have been gleaned from the study: Principals should be required to complete leadership training prior to being chosen as a principal. This should also be taken into consideration, along with any other requirements outlined in the government policy. Government representatives serving in various capacities within the educational sector must to be aware of and appreciate principal leadership. The leadership responsibilities of the principals should be made clear to both the government and the populace. People from all walks of life, including government officials and citizens, should be taught a certain level of cultural understanding so that they recognize principals as leaders.
The writer is presently pursuing his post doctoral research in academic leadership at Universiti Malaysia Perlis, Malaysia.

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