Education is facing a leadership crisis (Rhodes, Brundrett, & Nevill, 2008). It is challenged by a decreasing interest from suitably qualified applicants for principal positions, an ageing population of school principals and a decreasing retention of principals in their schools of appointment and in the role of principal (Darling-Hammond, Meyerson, LaPointe, & Orr, 2010; Fink & Brayman, 2004; McKenzie, Weldon, Rowley, Murphy, & McMillan, 2014). Effective preparation of principals is cited as one of the main factors contributing to the declining interest in principalship (AITSL, 2015b; Darling-Hammond et al., 2010; Rowland, 2017; The Wing Institute; Zellner et al., 2002). However, it is also identified that in Australia, there needs to be a greater commitment to earlier identification, support and recommendation of potential school leaders (Watterston, 2015). Further, it is well established, that ensuring a suitable pool of middle and senior leaders is of key strategic importance to schools, learners and the communities they serve (Rhodes et al., 2008).
Social Exchange theory proposes that greater investment and identification of talent, will result in greater obligation and commitment of an individual to an organisation (Blau, 1964) and will further result in greater willingness to take on further responsibilities. Talent management and the preparation of principals to be able to effectively do this by identifying, supporting and recommending aspirants, is one part of the solution to this leadership crisis (Rhodes et al., 2008). However, Talent Management and Talent Identification in the education sector is in its infancy in comparison to other major industries (Asplund, 2019). Little is also known about effective leadership succession and its management in the education sector (Asplund, 2019; Rhodes et al., 2008). As the education sector moves further into Talent Management, the professional values of egalitarianism, autonomy and expertise which are identified in teachers, must be taken into due consideration. Asplund (2019), identifies that professionalism has a mediating effect to talent management. Therefore a new model of talent management in comparison to classical talent management needs to be established for the educational sector. There is a need to further identify the characteristics of effective succession planning and talent management, how this is founded in issues of power, justice and lived lives and how effectiveness of talent management process is measured (Rhodes et al., 2008). It is also not as simple as progressing talent through leadership stages in schools such as heads of curriculum and deputy principal prior to principalship as there is an increasing number of middle leaders not seeking principalship (Darling-Hammond et al., 2010; Fink & Brayman, 2004; McKenzie et al., 2014).
Initially, talent will be identified as the collective knowledge, skills, abilities, experiences, values, habits, and behaviours of all labour that is brought to bear on the organisations mission (Schiemann, 2014). It will use the Australian Professional Standards for Principals and Leadership Profiles (AITSL, 2015a), as the elements of talent expected of principals in Queensland. Further consideration will be given to the new Queensland Government Capability and Leadership Framework as principals in Queensland are also bound by the Public Services Act (2016).
Therefore in the discussion around talent management, it will be viewed as unique function that integrates all of the activities and responsibilities associated with the management of talent life cycles (Schiemann, 2014), including identification, support, recommendation and retention.
Schools in Queensland are diverse in context and complexity and the skill set needed from site to site can be just as diverse. Schiemann (2014) identifies that organisations need to look beyond identifying competencies (which they are good at doing), and include an identification of “fit” (which they are less well equipped to do). Schiemann (2014) defines “fit” as an alignment and engagement with the organisations mission and culture. In the context of the principal in Queensland, (I say) that this needs to go beyond the mission and culture of the system of employment, but needs to consider the culture and mission of the school’s culture and its community.