I believe that all leadership is situational. It’s a simple argument to make: What will bring about terrific results in one situation will wreak havoc on another situation.
The leader whose mandate is to sustain a tradition of excellence has a different role than the leader whose charge is to move out an entrenched contingent of underperformers.
The key – and universal – leadership task, then, is to read the situation carefully. In my principal preparation program, our first major internship assignment was to conduct an “ethnography” of our internship site. This led to a careful examination of our various schools.
“What kind of school is this?”
“What are the centers of ‘goodness’ in this school?”
“What are we working on? What are our challenges?”
Clearly, the next question is “Therefore, what do I need to do as a leader? What am I here for?”
We must read the situation carefully, check our perceptions, and check our assumptions about what we’re (therefore) there for.