How do you develop Administrative Leadership skills? When promoted into administration, writer found two resources helpful

shutterstock_290031071Enjoy this blog post from NLU’s McCormick Center for Early Leadership blog. In a recent Whole Leadership post on the McCormick blog, Teri Talan introduced administrative leadership by considering its definition and importance. This led Tarah Kadzielawski to wonder, how do you improve administrative leadership skills? She reflects on her experience as a strong teacher who was promoted into administration. She shares her journey, the advice she’d give her younger self, and her favorite resources for developing administrative leadership.

by Tarah Kadzielawski


In last week’s Whole Leadership post, Teri Talan started us in a new direction, Administrative Leadership. My personal background is similar to many other program leaders in our field—I was a strong teacher who was promoted into administration. In my personal experience with administrative leadership, I felt I could handle pedagogical leadership and thought I had many leadership essentials; however, I knew I was in need of some support and resources to build up my administrative leadership skills. (In hindsight I’m sure I was in need of more resources for pedagogical leadership and leadership essentials as well, but that is a different blog post.)

To build up my administrative leadership skills, I turned to the resources at my disposal. There were director’s networks—I was involved in—related to different funding sources such as Head Start and state pre-K. However, these didn’t provide the administrative leadership skill development that I sought. Two professional learning opportunities that I participated in did help develop my administrative leadership skills:

Taking Charge of Change: Opened my eyes or caused me to rethink aspects of leadership such as: Building a vision and clearly communicating it to staff; recruiting, hiring, and orientating; and how to give effective feedback to name a few.
Technology of Participation (ToPs): Taught me facilitation methods to help groups think, talk, and work together. Great for shared decision making.
I probably could have read more books, articles, or journals, but I felt overwhelmed as a new director. I was constantly putting out fires. If I could go back and give my younger self any advice, it would be to make time to learn about, develop, and practice the administrative leadership skills. I think if I had more administrative leadership skills working at the time, I would have been putting out fewer fires.

As I have continued my journey, I think about administrative leadership skills more broadly. Lately, I have been finding myself talking with colleagues about how administrative leadership skills—at their core—should be transferable to other professions. I noticed in many e-mails I receive from Exchange Everyday, they often provide information from the Harvard Business Review related to leadership and management topics. I was also at a training not that long ago when someone told me about ATD. What’s ATD you ask? It is the Association for Talent Development. They provide resources on a variety of topics including leadership.

How do you work to improve your administrative leadership skills? What resources do you go to for operational leadership? What resources do you go to for strategic leadership? Do you find it difficult to find professional development related to either aspect of administrative leadership? If so, what are you looking for that you haven’t been able to find? Maybe if you share, someone else reading the blog may have a suggestion to help you find the resource you are looking for.

Please share with others in the comments section below so we can build a collective library of resources to improve our administrative leadership skills:

Conferences, trainings or workshops you have attended or plan to attend
Books, articles, journals, blogs, follow twitter, podcasts or other social media
Any membership organizations or groups you know of or belong to
Anything else you think might help someone else related to building up administrative leadership
Tarah Kadzielawski is the e-learning Manager for the McCormick Center for Early Childhood Leadership at National Louis University. Previously, Tarah served as an assessor and training specialist for the McCormick Center. She holds a Master’s degree in Early Childhood Leadership and Advocacy. Prior to working at the McCormick Center, Tarah worked as a classroom teacher, a program coordinator, and a director of an accredited early childhood center serving low income families and included Head Start and Preschool for All children.