NOTE: The following is a chapter in The Principal as Technology Leader (2003) authored by Theodore Creighton, and published by Corwin Press. Though an apparent theme is technology implementation, this chapter is about "the leadership of personnel," and is applicable to all aspects of the role of the principal in the administration of personnel. As you read and reflect upon this material, I encourage you to substitute any of the many issues you deal with in your schools for the topic of technology implementation.
Ever so eloquently, Phillip Schlechty (1997) discusses five types of actors participating in any change process. It is important for school leaders to understand these different actors and their needs, desires, and roles in the process of any implementation of program development.
Every school has trailblazers: teachers and staff who willingly venture into the unknown, such as the implementation of technology. Education leaders are remiss if they do not provide opportunities for trailblazers to be out in front of innovation efforts. Pioneers, though as adventurous as trailblazers, need assurance that the program implementation is worth the effort. Settlers, the third type of actors, need more detail and specific direction than do the trailblazers or pioneers.
Resisters (called stay-at-homes by Schlechty) are simply satisfied with the status quo and see no reason to change their thinking or strategies for doing things. Though the principal must provide opportunities for resisters to see the advantages of the program implementation, resisters are generally not a threat to innovation. The danger of course is to neglect resisters, for fear that they will join forces with the fifth group of actors, the saboteurs.