As part of the network of international schools, admissions professionals are working in a growing global market of international schools. This brings up several important questions:
How can admissions lead?
Are they part of the leadership team?
Understanding the terminology of leadership is essential, as it is often misunderstood. In his book ”Leadership: Research Findings, Practice, and Skills,” Andrew DuBrin defined leadership as the ability to inspire confidence and support among the people who are needed to achieve organizational goals. And, most importantly, he states, leadership is not only found among people in high-level positions but it is needed at all levels in an organization and can be practiced to some extent even by a person not assigned to a formal leadership position. While schools are growing consistently, change needs to come especially from mid management level leaders and not exclusively rely on top leadership
In their book “The psychology of human leadership: How to develop charisma and authority” Paschen and Dihsmaier indicated three things we can observe in leadership:
- We see leadership actions, which are the acts of influence by the leader
- We see leadership structures as the result of past leadership actions. These predefined leadership structures limit the scope of the leadership actions and take over part of the leadership work.
- We see leadership results. The more long-term the goals and the more social goals they include compared to technically measurable aspects, the harder it is to attribute them to the leadership performance.
While analyzing the leadership definitions and the role of admissions in international schools, several valuable contributions may be pointed out on the part of the latter:
- Relationships built between admissions officers and families inquiring about the school, spark the flame for marketing the school across multinational communities.
- Planning for the admission season and setting projections for the school budget, place admissions officers in a leadership role of financing the school’s resources and employment.
- Admissions Officers occupy a leading role when accepting or denying students—and the manner in which they carry those processes out can make or break the reputation of a school
- Accepting VIP students places admission in the lead for creating higher level connections that help the school’s network to grow and possibly raise funds for the school’s big projects and events.
- Admission leads the promotion of any academic and curriculum updates, as well as, any facility changes.
In our roles of admissions professionals, the most important thing we share are our true emotions—happiness to see kids joining the early childhood years or tears while watching the graduation ceremonies of kids we saw for the first time years before. Our interaction with international families influences their parenting and this is most definitely a long-term leadership project.
Considering the diversity of nationalities and the skilled background of all the admission personnel across the globe, they all add up to promote a cultural forum that is a result of growth and accumulation from various leadership actions and structures. The admission leadership structure is more of a sculpture rather than a painting since we cannot see all the angles at once, each angle possesses depth and value, which is different than a painting that has an overall concept and can be evaluated by a singular subjective critical vision.
Admissions professionals empower the school community, through their vision and mindset: they feel their work is important, they believe they have the competence and capability to perform, they possess self-determination and motivation and they have the ability to create impact and influence others. The admissions function of a school influences and underpins the leadership of every department in that institution, community, and the world, ultimately. Whether Heads of international schools invite admissions to the leadership table or not, this action does not change the fact that admissions professionals have been leaders of the 21st-century generation and generations to come.