OFF THE SHELF: Leadership in Balance – October 2017

by Sarah Vandergriff, LAPCS Legal & Policy Director

Yin-Yang is the ancient Taoist principle that so eloquently captures the complementary nature of opposing forces that is needed to maintain harmony within the universe. There can be no light without darkness; no heat without cold; and, no masculine without feminine. As evident by this symbol, opposing elements are neither static nor absolute. Instead, like the rise and fall of a tide, they ebb and flow as situations arise—one never in complete control as there is an ever-present essence of each within the other.

This concept can also be used to explain the relationship between charter school boards and their school leaders. Charter school boards represent the macro-powers and responsibilities of charter schools while school leaders represent the micro.

These roles must be simultaneously executed consistently for the school to survive each day while on its path to contract renewal. But like the symbol, a little bit of each is encompassed by the other: boards must understand the daily complexities and struggles of school operations while school leaders must maintain the strategic perspective required to achieve outcomes in the long-term

Unfortunately, there’s not a simple way to maintain this delicate balance. Individual personalities will significantly impact this dynamic. But the regular board and leadership training can help you recognize when your actions hinder or support this process. Having defined roles, responsibilities, and job descriptions for board members and leaders will help those within the school’s community understand the parameters of this relationship and setting short and long-term goals for the board and leader creates transparent and accountable expectations.

Schools must strive to maintain the harmonious interdependent relationship between the board and school leader as captured by the yin-yang symbol for overall success.

As always, the Top Shelf is here to help. Please contact us for resources or assistance.


Sarah Vandergriff

LAPCS Legal & Policy Director

Email: [email protected]
Phone: (504) 291-8477