International school Head Tenures

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Remember the Patterns and Statistics – Based on Littleford & Associates’ experience, board turnover, chair turnover and the loss of institutional memory account for 60% of the cases of heads being “fired”. Another important and related statistic is that is the third or fourth chair who fires the head 80% of the time. However, about 30% of the time heads are fired because they make too many changes that are threatening to faculty too quickly before they build that reservoir of political capital. That results often in teachers making an end run to the parents or board members directly to complain about the head. Missteps made early on are often impossible to correct. With the virus driving feelings, passions and decisions, all heads are at risk but new heads are especially vulnerable, and if they do not survive, there will be a new expensive search, another transition, and a loss of at least two to three years of momentum and progress. 

Littleford & Associates “Keeping in the Loop” newsletter, June 25, 2020

I am completing my first year as director of the Tashkent International School and really enjoyed the experience, despite the Covid-19 pandemic. Moving to a new school is tricky and learning the school culture, 150 employees, 500+ students, and 300+ families is a lot to take on. Added to this is a new country and government system which in Uzbekistan, being a new country, is rapidly changing. I attended several John Littleford’s webinars during the pandemic thanks to AAIE. John always gives his blunt, sometimes provocative opinion, but he always backs it up with data. Everyone of his periodic newsletters has insightful tidbits for international school leaders. The average tenure of an international school head is 3.7 years, which in my opinion is too short. I feel to really make a difference in a school, a leader needs at least 5 years.

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