More often than not, the success or failure of a school rests on the shoulders of the school principal or administrator. Serving as the instructional leader of a school is a tough job and not everyone is cut out to do it. In order for a school administrator to excel in his position and cultivate an effective learning environment, he must possess certain personal characteristics.

Vision

Principal's pass their vision on to teachers.
Principal's pass their vision on to teachers.

An effective school administrator must have a clear vision for where he wants to take the school. He must also have a plan of action to make that vision a reality. According to Education World, vision is the single most important quality in a school administrator. "The principal needs to be the person steering the ship," Jed Landsman-Yakin, principal of Belfry High School in Montana, states in an interview with that website (see Reference 2). Without a clearly stated vision, the teachers and other faculty members, and therefore the students, will go forth aimlessly without any measurable goals for success.

Trustworthiness

An administrator must be trustworthy.
An administrator must be trustworthy.

The second most important characteristic of an excellent school administrator, according to Education World, is trustworthiness. The school administrator must be honest and straightforward with teachers, parents and students. According to Jim Jordan, principal of Buford High School in South Carolina, "A leader earns credibility and trust by being honest, by knowing how to do his or her job, and by telling the truth and being up-front with teachers, parents, and students." (See Reference 2.) If the teachers, parents and students don't view the administrator as a person with integral character, it will be increasingly difficult for them to get on board with the administrator's vision for the school.

Sense of Humor

Having a good sense of humor is important when dealing with the silly things students do.
Having a good sense of humor is important when dealing with the silly things students do.

Having a good sense of humor comes into play when dealing with the situations that arise in a school building on a daily basis. School administrators need to be able to laugh with teachers and laugh at some of the outrageous things students do. An administrator should be stern but not overly so. He should even be able to laugh at himself from time to time. Jon Romeo, former principal of Mitchell Elementary School in Woodbury, Conn., asserts that "The principal's personality more often than not is reflected in the school building ... I can't think of a more important trait for a school – especially an elementary school – than humor!" (See Reference 2.)

Open-Mindedness

A good administrator is open to the suggestions of her staff.
A good administrator is open to the suggestions of her staff.

An excellent school administrator is open to the suggestions of his staff. If he disagrees with a teacher's viewpoint he must be able to express his difference of opinion in a respectful way. He must also be open to discuss policies and procedures his staff may have issues with and be willing to factor in staff input when creating and implementing new policies.

Approachability

A good administrator should be accessible and approachable.
A good administrator should be accessible and approachable.

An excellent school administrator should be accessible, friendly and approachable. He should encourage teachers to come to him with questions or concerns. Likewise, students should feel comfortable to talk with the administrator if they have a problem with another student or a teacher.