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School Superintendents' Shared Purpose

Updated: Aug 12, 2019

Leadership is impossible without followers. According to Sergiovanni (1992), the effective leader works with their employees to motivate them and accomplish tasks that the leader wants to be completed. In some cases, effective leaders are able to create an environment where the work gets accomplished and the employees enjoy doing the work. When followers enjoy the work it becomes the intrinsic reward that can help move the organization to be value-centered.

According to Sergiovanni, there is a need for leadership that can “compel people to respond on this intrinsic level” (p. 9). Connecting with universal intrinsic motivation requires the leader to base his or her practice on compelling ideas, not the leader’s ideas, but the foundation of the organization. “One of the great secrets of leadership is that before one can command the respect and followership of others, she or he must demonstrate devotion to the organization’s purposes and commitment to those in the organization who work day by day on the ordinary tasks that are necessary for those purposes to be realized” (Sergiovanni, 1991, p. 334). Whereas subordinates simply complete a task because they are required to do so, followers enter into the task because they are committed to the shared purposes of the organization. Effective leaders see their authority as a “source of energy for engaging others in the task of achieving shared goals and purposes.”

Once the organization makes a commitment to acting on its shared values, the organization is transformed into a “covenantal community” (Sergiovanni, 1992, p. 129). “A covenantal community is a group of people who share beliefs, feel a strong sense of place, and think that the group is more important than the individual” (pp. 102-103). The role of the leader in this covenantal community then is to induce clarity, consensus, and commitment to the communities (or organization’s) basic purposes. When the leader’s actions are constantly moving the organization in this direction they are practicing “purposing” which helps restore meaning to the actions of the community and its members (p. 72).

IINII uses a revolutionary Design Thinking process to help your school community gain an understanding of one’s sense of self, as well as developing an understanding of students’ values; having an understanding of one’s values matters because research has shown that it is linked to better well-being, less stress, and increased confidence in one’s ability to succeed.

Understanding students’ values can be developed with culturally responsive practices that reflect a student’s identity and experience. Particularly helpful is focusing efforts on cultural competence and relevance and providing opportunities for students to practice bridging differences between diverse identities in a safe environment. To learn how you can create a dynamic learning environment that honors your student community, visit our website at, or contact us at or 1800-507-2502.

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