The distinguishing features of a successful leader – vision and the desire to create change for the greater good of others

I had an epiphany about leadership a couple of weeks ago when I listened to our lecturer, Roy Crotty in an online meeting.   I had been considering the fact that anyone can be a leader and that all teachers are leaders in a school especially when they instructional partners.  Roy Crotty made a distinction about leaders in stating that what really distinguishes a leader is having a vision (Crotty, 2013).  I know this was something that was emphasised early in our course on leadership but I had not considered how much it really distinguishes one leader from another because having a vision motivates a person to make change happen on a deeper level.

I have come to realise that there is a clear distinction between having a belief which drives behaviour and having a vision which drives behaviour that motivates for change.  As an English teacher for eight years I was motivated to make a difference to children’s lives through opening doors to ideas and helping students obtain the ability to communication effectively.  Education is imbued with moral purpose and the belief in how education drives social equity and teachers make a difference to children’s lives every day.  The creation of a vision, however, takes purpose and belief to a higher level to effect greater change and therefore becomes a distinguishing feature of a successful leader.  This idea can be connected to one of Michael Fullan’s secrets of success which is “connecting peers with purpose” (O’Connell, 2007) which is precisely the aim of visionary leadership.  And of course having a vision is the first step in creating a strategy for change which results in behaviour that goes beyond everyday duties.  I think this is what Roy Crotty was alluding to in the online meeting (Crotty, 2013), that is: teachers plan activities to realise their goals in teaching but leaders plan beyond this by creating visions for change beyond the goals of realising beliefs.

Another distinguishing feature of successful leaders that I have noticed recently is the preparedness to go beyond goals in an effort to make change happen.  In this case I mean particularly the unselfish feature that is a distinguishing feature of transformative leaders (Smith, 2011).  I have been following Jenny Luca on her blog, Lucacept, after having the privilege of hearing her speak at the AIS NSW Teacher Librarianship Conference in Sydney this year. Jenny Luca’s blog is a generous contribution to the education of teacher librarians as she shares not only her thoughts about our role but also the work she is undertaking in leading her own school in digital literacy.  In this way she inspires others, not only through her ideas which lead by example, but particularly through demonstrating what great transformative leaders do, that is: create performances that move beyond personal work goals, model examples of exceptional practice and exhibit the desire to effect change for the greater good (Smith, 2011).

Crotty, R. (2013). ETL504 Ass 2 Section 2_0.  [online forum meeting] Retrieved from:

O’Connell, J. (2007).  School leadership – the six secrets of success. In Heyjude learning in an online world.  Retrieved from:

Smith, D. (2011). Educating Preservice School Librarians to Lead: A Study of Self-Perceived Transformational Leadership Behaviors. School Library Media Research, 14, 5-5.


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