The Third Arm

By Brian Savins

Leadership and Management in the Age of Technology.

The job of running a school is no easy task and educational administrators definitely require two arms to do the job effectively. As leader with the one arm, they must seek to motivate and instil in employees a sense of purpose and direction for the school. As manager with the other arm, they must carefully guide and assist employees, hoping to fabricate an outcome consistent with their vision as leader. In this day and age, however, they are also in need of a third arm. 

No longer is it acceptable for a leader to distance themselves from their greatest resource: the people they lead. At the same time, employees are expecting a management style which permits them to participate in decision making, that is, being part of a team. To function efficiently within the dual role of leader and manager, educational administrators today need the additional resource of the third arm, that is, the ability to utilise technology within the workplace.

As part of my postgraduate studies I am currently looking at enhancing the role of leadership and management through the use of computer technology. Communicating effectively within the workplace is vitally important to educational administrators and in this age of virtual reality existence, regardless of whether we like it or not, the medium is the message.

Email, the World Wide Web, networking and integrated packages dominate our developing technological vocabulary. We are what we speak, the techno-babble abounds and we all pretend we are speaking the same language. Recently I had an opportunity to attend the 'Expanding Horizons 97' conference in Sydney. We were enthralled by a gifted speaker, Mr. Glen Capelli, Director of The True Learning Centre, who zipped our 'lunar landing to now' technological history into a compressed file of humour and insightful perceptions on learning and thinking in the age of technology.

In a workshop presented by Geoff Millar, Deputy Principal of Scotch College in Adelaide, we were challenged to dissect the often blurred roles of leader and manager, and how these roles can make important contributions in developing technology within the school environment. Mr. Millar presented a model of 'situational leadership' which offers a positive pathway to lead employees towards a goal. As he suggests, the style of leadership is important, be it 'telling, selling, participating or delegating' , and should motivate people to want to become part of the team.

In conclusion, leading and managing in a technological age requires that administrators continue to be the successful leaders and managers that they already are and also that they be proficient as techno-drivers. They must be prepared to have the right transportation and to acquire the necessary skills to drive the juggernaut. There is an increasing number of other techno-drivers on the information superhighway; gigs and bytes are fuel for the trip. Hold out your third arm and reach for the controls.

Brian Savins

Deputy Dean of Studies and Chairperson: Technology Enhancement Programme Committee

The Southport School