School leadership is complex and requires wisdom, informed judgment, and choosing among multiple options. Should leaders push for fast results or incremental improvements over time? Do they focus on closing the achievement gap or raising the rigor of teaching and learning? There is no single right solution to these challenges. In fact, there are often multiple paths to achieving success. As such, those leading change efforts often find themselves reaching difficult decision points as they plan and implement improvement initiatives.
At Education Northwest we believe the path to success involves rejecting “either/or” thinking in favor of a “both/and” mind-set—leading with what we call “Intension.” We find that school leaders who intentionally manage opposing viewpoints and find optimal ground for making and implementing choices in the change process maximize their chances for success. In our nearly 50 years of supporting school improvement work, we have helped school leaders learn how to lead with intension to achieve results. In this brief, we share lessons learned from our field experience.