Leading Change

Leading Change

School leaders are key change agents for their schools and are tasked with improving practice while navigating an increasingly challenging school environment. Driving change requires a strong foundation of knowledge and skills to effectively manage improvement and lead successful schools. 

Offered as a course within the Certificate in School Management and Leadership (CSML), an innovative collaboration between the Harvard Graduate School of Education (HGSE) and Harvard Business School (HBS), Leading Change is designed to equip school leaders with the skills they need to drive school change and help diverse stakeholders establish priorities and improve practice. 

Leading Change participants will:

  • Learn the concept of adaptive leadership, and apply a framework for building and distributing leadership in their school, engaging and empowering others in solving their school’s most challenging problems, including those that require shifts in beliefs and practices
  • Operationalize the fundamental belief that the principal can and should set the culture of a school
  • Learn how to establish a sense of urgency, craft and communicate a strong vision, and actively shape a school culture to support the most critical work
  • Develop the knowledge and skills to lead a diverse school community that supports all students in reaching their potential
  • Explore, identify and address equity challenges by using data, and learn how to build an equitable school culture that promotes excellence for all

Course Syllabus & Calendar

View modules and deadlines for current and upcoming editions of this course. The syllabus and calendars are downloadable. 


Mary Grassa O'Neill

Mary Grassa O'Neill, CSML Faculty Co-Chair, Senior Lecturer on Education; Faculty Director, School Leadership, HGSE

Allen Grossman

Allen Grossman, CSML Faculty Co-Chair (Emeritus), Senior Fellow, HBS

Ronald Heifetz

Ronald Heifetz, King Hussein Bin Talal Senior Lecturer in Public Leadership, Harvard Kennedy School

Katherine Merseth

Katherine K. Merseth, Senior Lecturer on Education, HGSE

Irvin Scott

Irvin Leon Scott, Senior Lecturer on Education, HGSE



The course also features engaging case studies of the following practitioners:

  • Quinton Courts: Principal, Leonides Gonzalez Cigarroa Elementary School, Dallas, TX
  • Sheila Durant: Principal, P.S. 69 Journey Prep School, Bronx, NY
  • John Fish: President and CEO, Suffolk Construction, Boston, MA
  • Jeff Mathews: Principal, Peachtree Ridge High School, Suwanee, GA
  • Brittany Wagner-Friel: Principal, EL Hayes Elementary School, Washington, DC
  • Naia Wilson-Akubude: Headmaster, New Mission High School, Boston, MA

Course Details

World-class Harvard faculty research adapted to the PreK-12 school context
Online icon 100% online and interactive
participants icon Features case studies of leaders from a diverse cross-section of schools and businesses from across the country
Global Networking Icon Global peer network of school leaders
Solutions icon Develop a toolkit and solutions that are tailored to improving your school
A PDF brochure overview of Leading Change, a Certificate in School Management and Leadership course.

Learn more about our transformative learning experience for PreK-12 school leaders.