10 Rules Principals Must Follow to Become Successful Leaders

While school principals must be exceptional administrators, they must also have considerable knowledge of teaching, designing school curricula, and effective communication. Only then can they ensure that they guide the rest of the school staff in a way that ensures that students get the best possible education with the resources available. Moreover, to become successful leaders, principals must adhere to specific rules that can guide their actions and decisions. These principles are based on timeless concepts of effective leadership that have yielded positive results time and time again. So, let’s delve into the ten rules principals must follow to become successful leaders.

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1. Embrace Timeless Leadership Principles:

The foundation of successful leadership begins with embracing timeless leadership principles that are rooted in fairness, integrity, honesty, and human dignity. Principals must understand that leadership is not about following the latest trends or pop psychology but rather about leading with a strong sense of purpose and guiding principles that can withstand the test of time. By grounding their leadership approach in these principles, principals can build trust and credibility among their teams, which is essential for effective leadership.

2. Have a Vision and Persevere:

Principals must articulate a compelling vision for their school and inspire their team to share it. They must also demonstrate perseverance in the face of challenges and setbacks, as leadership often requires making tough decisions and navigating through difficult situations.

Principles of Effective Leadership

Effective leadership is crucial in any field, but it is especially important in education. As students look to their teachers and administrators for guidance and support, those in leadership positions must possess the skills necessary to create a positive and productive learning environment. This is where MS Educational Leadership can help—a program emphasizing the development of leadership skills tailored specifically to educational settings. Thus, it can help prepare students to become effective and successful educational leaders.

3. Communicate Effectively:

Excellent communication is a vital skill every successful leader must possess. Principals must be able to effectively communicate their expectations, goals, and strategies to their team. They must also be active listeners and open to their team members’ feedback. Clear and transparent communication helps build trust, fosters collaboration, and ensures everyone is on the same page, which is critical for success.

4. Be Passionate and Inspiring:

An inspiring leader is passionate about their work, confident in their abilities, emotionally intelligent, decisive, and strategic. Principals must lead passionately and inspire their teams through actions, words, and energy.

They must motivate and engage their team members, create a positive work environment, and foster a culture of excellence. Principals who lead with passion and inspire their teams can drive innovation, boost morale, and achieve extraordinary results.

5. Practice Self-Care:

Taking care of oneself is an often overlooked but crucial aspect of effective leadership. Principals must prioritize self-care and ensure they are physically, mentally, and emotionally well.

They must manage their stress, maintain a healthy work-life balance, and practice self-reflection and self-improvement. When principals care for themselves, they can ensure they handle leadership demands and make sound decisions.

6. Foster Diversity and Inclusion:

Sustainable leadership entails fostering an environment that supports diversity and inclusion. To achieve this, principals must welcome diversity in their team, appreciate diverse viewpoints, and establish a culture that respects and values everyone.

They must actively promote diversity during hiring, promotions, and decision-making processes and guarantee that all team members have equal chances for personal and professional growth. A diverse and inclusive team tends to be more creative, adaptable, and prosperous.

7. Continuously Learn and Improve:

Successful leaders are lifelong learners committed to continuous improvement. Principals must invest in personal and professional development, stay updated with the latest research and best practices in education, and seek feedback from their team.

It’s crucial for principals to remain receptive to learning from their mistakes and be willing to modify their leadership style based on feedback and outcomes. Continuously striving for growth and improvement is necessary for principals to stay relevant, innovative, and effective in their leadership positions. By doing so, they can ensure that their team and organization continue to thrive under their guidance.

8. Build and Empower a High-Performing Team:

A successful principal understands the importance of building a high-performing team and empowering them to excel. Principals must recruit and retain top talent, provide clear expectations and resources for their team, delegate responsibilities, and provide professional growth and development opportunities.

They must also create a supportive and collaborative team culture where everyone feels valued and motivated to contribute their best. A high-performing team is essential for achieving the school’s goals and driving success.

9. Foster Positive Relationships:

Leadership is built on relationships, and a successful principal must be skilled in building positive relationships with their team, students, parents, and other interested parties. They must practice empathy, respect, and active listening and seek to understand the perspectives and needs of others.

Establishing positive relationships is vital as it builds trust, encourages collaboration, and promotes a welcoming school environment where everyone feels appreciated and included. It sets the foundation for a positive and productive work environment that benefits everyone.

10. Lead with Ethics and Integrity:

Principals must exhibit the highest standards of ethics and integrity. They should be exemplary models of ethical conduct, demonstrate transparency while making decisions, and follow the school and district’s values and policies.

Principals must avoid showing favoritism or bias and make impartial and fair decisions that are in the school’s and its stakeholders’ best interest. By leading with ethics and integrity, principals build trust, establish credibility, and gain respect, which are all crucial elements of effective leadership.


As explained above, becoming a successful leader as a principal requires adherence to specific rules or principles. By following these rules, principals can create a positive and thriving school environment, inspire their team, and achieve success in their leadership role. In turn, they can ensure that they help inspire young minds to become valuable members and contributors to society in the future.

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