DAILY INSIGHT: Effective technology leadership in K-12 education

By Angie White

The role of technology in K-12 education has expanded to become an essential component in the learning environment. Consequently, it is critical that K-12 technology leaders have the requisite skills to lead effectively. Effective tech leadership is an amalgamation of individual management style, a collection of competencies and skills, and organizational structure. Tech leaders must possess the essential skills and competencies needed to achieve the ultimate goal of education—student learning and achievement.

In this series of blogs I will examine the key practices of servant leadership from the Greenleaf Center for Servant Leadership, the new success factors for organizational success as outlined in The Boundaryless Organization and the Framework of Essential Skills for the K-12 CTO from CoSN.

As education technology leadership positions developed, technology leaders typically adopted the classic or traditional leadership models or styles around them. However, these old models no longer serve our schools well. Today, guiding our schools requires a new set of leadership skills.

Servant leadership is a relatively new leadership model/movement that began with Robert Greenleaf’s essay, “The Servant as Leader.” According to Greenleaf, leadership is about service. He believes that a true leader focuses on those he or she leads and, thereby, serves.

Many leadership experts—including Ken Blanchard, Stephen Covey, Peter Drucker, and Margaret Wheatley—support the servant leadership model because it has proven to work in every sector. The seven fundamental practices identified in the servant leadership model are:



3.changing the pyramid

4.developing your colleagues

5.coaching not controlling

6.unleashing the energy and intelligence of others, and


Applying these seven key practices results in trust, which is foundational to both effective leadership and effective organizations. Other practices may contribute to the success of servant leaders and their organization, but these seven practices are considered essential. They focus on considering and developing people and possessing insight so that the organization experiences success, thereby securing the future of the servant leader and her/his colleagues.

Boundaryless organizations attempt to remove vertical, horizontal, external, and geographic boundaries from organizations. Despite the name, boundaryless organizations do have boundaries.Instead of having no boundaries, it is about “making boundaries more permeable, allowing greater fluidity of movement throughout the organization.” With the boundaryless organization, “information, resources, ideas, and energy pass through its membranes quickly and easily so that the organization as a whole functions effectively.” They are based on trust and interdependency. There is mutual accountability in these organizations. Colleagues share credit when it is given and share when mistakes are made.

CoSN developed the Framework of Essential Skills for the K-12 CTO, which consists of four grouping of essential skill areas: leadership and vision, understanding the educational environment, managing technology and support resources, and core values and skills. This framework provides a context in which to place the practices of effective servant leaders and the success factors of boundaryless organizations.

My next two blogs will focus on placing these practices and factors within the Framework of Essential Skills for the K-12 CTO.

Angie White is chief information officer for Gallatin County School District in Kentucky.