Marzano’s 21 Responsibilities of the School Leader

These 21 Responsibilities of the School Leader are taken from Marzano’s book “School Leadership that Works.”  These are the results of his study to determine effective practices for school leadership and a description of each responsibility.

1.  Affirmation
When one mentions affirmation, one can describe it as communication of accountability.  The school leader has the responsibility to praise and celebrate accomplishments, but yet must still have the courage to address negatives.

2. Change Agent
It is the responsibility of the school leader to challenge the status quo, to challenge the practices that are in place and to push towards new practices.  Similar to Zygotsky’s Zone of Proximal Development, the leader’s responsibility is to take the staff out of their comfort zone in an attempt to develop new and better practices.

3.  Contingent Rewards
This responsibility is reflective of Transactional Leadership, or the swapping of rewards for performance.  It is fairly common to compliment groups, but isolated when recognizing individuals, and the leader needs to understand that not everyone should be treated equally.

4.  Communication
Communications seems to possibly be the most important responsibility because it is integrated into most aspects of leadership.

5.  Culture
Culture is the shared values, beliefs, and feelings of a community, and is evident in the artifacts and symbols that illustrate those priorities.  Culture, like communication, is evident in many theories of leadership, and establishing a culture of achievement in the school might be one of the most important responsibilities of the leader.

6.  Discipline
Discipline refers to protecting teachers from issues and influences that would detract from their instructional time or focus. (Marzano, 2005)  Instructional time is paramount to teaching; more time on task, more learning, theoretically.  The principal has the responsibility to decrease the amount of distractions that impact instructional time.

7.  Flexibility
Conflict:Change.  Flexibility is about realizing, or creating, chaos, and then adjust to it.  Leaders realize the situations and adapt their behaviors to address the situation.  These traits also evident in the change agent responsibility.

8.  Focus
Focus is similar to discipline in that it also associates with lessening the distractions to instructional time.  Focus is the leader’s ability to communicate and reinforce the goals and vision, and to minimize the distractions to those ends.

9.  Ideals/Beliefs
It is the leader’s beliefs which shape the culture of the school, and creates followership.

10.  Input
A school’s effectiveness correlates to the amount, and type, of input that teachers have into the running of the school.  This input builds shared sense of purpose and consensus.

11.  Intellectual Stimulation
Learning about learning and inspiring the organization to grow is all about professional development.  Providing the research and theories allows the staff to implement and experiment with new strategies.

12.  Involvement in Curriculum, Instruction, and Assessment
The involvement of the leader in Curriculum, Instruction and Assessment is critical to the concept of instructional leadership.  (Marzano, 2005)  The leadership should be hands on with curriculum and instruction so that knowledge of strategies and resources can be shared.  Assessment practices are also important because maintaining consistent and focused assessment allows for adjustment of instruction  for the content for greater student achievement.

13.  Knowledge of Curriculum, Instruction, and Assessment
Having knowledge of curriculum, instruction, and assessment allows the leader to provide specific, research-based strategies to teachers for improved instruction.  While the Involvement responsibility is “hands on”, the Knowledge responsibility involves maintaining current research and theories about those areas.  This also allows the leader to prescribe specific professional development opportunities for staff to increase areas of need.

14.  Monitoring/Evaluating
Monitoring and evaluating are important because of the specific feedback they provide to teachers.  Through this process, the feedback provided can be specific and focused to aid in achievement.

15.  Optimizer
The Optimizer responsibility is the positive, inspirational emotion that the leader brings, especially when confronted with a meaningful change.

16.  Order
Order is the set of processes established to allow for the flow of work to be standardized.  Efficient procedures allows for effort to be focused on areas of greater importance, such as student learning.

17.  Outreach
The leader is an advocate for the school and the students to the various stakeholders in the community.  Communication  and partnerships are required for the school to achieve in a complex environment.

18.  Relationships
Relationships is central to the achievement of many other responsibilities.  It is with face-to-face connections that one can build the credibility with other people.

19.  Resources
It is imperative for efficient operations that one have the right tool for the task, and it is the responsibility of the leader to not only ensure that the tools are available, but that the teachers are trained to utilize the tool effectively and efficiently.  “Resources” can include physical resources (stuff), monetary resources (money), and human resources (people).

20.  Situational Awareness
Situational awareness is knowledge of what is going on in the school, feelings and emotions, day to day activities.  This will allow the leader to anticipate any issues, or be better prepared should a situation arise.

21.  Visibility
Visibility is the extent to which the leader is in classrooms and available throughout the school.  By being available, the leader shows that they are interested in what goes on in the school.  The leader is also able to communicate more informally with the teachers about classroom practices.

Marzano, R. J. (2005). School Leadership that Works. Alexandria, VA: ASCD.

Re-posted on January 29, 2018, from Education and Leadership