Principals must learn to navigate
through a difficult dilemma—
the tension between caring for
others and getting things done.
George Marnik, Sarah Mackenzie,
and Richard Ackerman
Peter was hired as principal to “clean up the mess” after his predecessor’s two-year tenure at Willow Grove Middle School. The
principal he replaced had been brought in to “turn
around Willow Grove” and had insisted on
implementing his own turnaround strategy despite
growing resistance and alienation among the faculty.
After two years, he had been invited to resign.
Peter’s initial task was clear: to rebuild
relationships so that the school could tackle the
difficult tasks teachers faced in their classrooms. His
challenge is all too common in this era of
accountability and take-no-prisoners leadership. For
Peter and many school leaders, this challenge
represents a seeming paradox: The bold action
needed to improve the school’s performance often
puts staff relationships at risk.