Defining leadership

We believe that every employee can be a leader, no matter their role. The GISD Leadership Definition provides a common understanding of the leadership qualities we value. It is a framework that outlines desired behaviors for leaders at every level. The definition serves as the foundation for alignment throughout the system and:

  • provides a clear/concise understanding of how leaders are identified and selected
  • drives growth based on career goals, feedback and coaching aligned to the definition
  • includes meaningful professional learning linked to system-wide development needs

This shared definition allows us to seek out and highlight individuals who exemplify and model what leading looks like for the entire GISD community.

On this page

    GISD's Leadership Definition

    Growing leaders

    • Foster ownership: Takes responsibility for growth in self
    • Pursue continuous growth: Seeks out and incorporates feedback into one's practice, models being a learner and continuously seeks to grow & improve
    • Empower others: Distributes leadership, giving people  the opportunity to impact growth

    Inspiring innovation

    • Take Initiative: Anticipates and solves problems proactively, with resilience
    • Seek Innovation and Change: Actively embraces new ideas and creative solutions; leads others through change
    • Celebrate Achievement: Recognizes and celebrates others for achievements; uses recognition to reinforce positive efforts

    Striving for excellence

    • Focus on Student Success: Takes personal accountability for student outcomes and advancing student success
    • Project Positive Presence: Exhibits poise, confidence, loyalty and integrity in all interactions
    • Live the Vision: Understands that "We are all Garland ISD" - every individual's actions contribute to reaching the future by driving excellence, one student at a time

    Developing relationships

    • Embrace Diversity: Values and celebrates all cultures; fosters an inclusive environment for all, honoring backgrounds and identities
    • Communicate Effectively: Communicates clearly, proactively and transparently with all stakeholders
    • Act with Compassion: Shows empathy and care for all stakeholders, upholding high expectations for self, students and staff


    The GISD Leadership Definition was created using a multi-input process with a diverse range of voices. The process took approximately four months to complete and included input from over 125 students, parents, teachers, principals, APs, central office staff and leaders across the district. It was essential to district leaders that the leadership definition reflected the culture, values, and mission of Garland ISD. 

    Role-specific Behaviors

    Role-specific behaviors are designed to identify how the GISD Leadership Definition behaviors are reflected in our daily work, task and responsibilities.

    How do I lead in my role?

    Select your current or desired role using the dropdowns below to see which of these eight role-specific behaviors aligns to that position.

    Find your role

    How can I grow as a leader?

    We've collected a variety of self-study resources based on the leadership definition. These are available to everyone to expand their skills. We also provide leadership development programs for qualified applicants interested in leadership opportunities.

    Self-study resources

    GISD leadership pipeline: Growing Leaders
    Resources for Fostering Ownership, Pursuing Continuous Growth and Empowering Others.
    GISD leadership pipeline: Inspiring Innovation
    Resources related to Taking Initiative, Seeking Innovation and Change and Celebrating Achievement.
    GISD leadership pipeline: Striving for Excellence
    Resources for Focusing on Student success, Projecting a Positive Presence and Living the Vision.
    GISD leadership pipeline: Developing Relationships
    Resources related to Embracing Diversity, Communicating Effectively and Acting with Compassion.

    District and Campus Leadership Programs

    GISD staff working to create goals as a part of the DLP.

    District Leadership Program

    The 2-year program gives superintendents and their teams the opportunity to receive intensive leadership training.
    Carver principal meeting with staff

    Campus Leadership Program

    Selected principals, plus a team of administrators, teachers or other campus leaders embark on a 2-year learning journey to become stronger leaders.

    Individual/Aspiring Leadership Programs

    Future Principal Institute logo

    Future Principal Institute

    This program provides a strong professional learning community to support current assistant principals interested in advancing to principalship.
    Aspiring administrators academy logo

    Aspiring Administrators Academy

    The Aspiring Administrators Academy (AAA) is designed for current Garland ISD staff to develop leadership skills required to become an assistant principal.
    Mentor Principal Program logo

    Mentorship Program for Principals

    This is a systemic, formal coaching and support program for new elementary and middle school principals.
    UNT & GISD Master of Education Program

    UNT Partnership for Aspiring Principals

    Masters degree program with some courses taught by GISD employees

    Our leadership journey

    See the slideshow below for key moments in the development of the leadership definition and our partnership with Holdsworth.

    Garland ISD leaders working at Holdsworth

    The District Leadership team participated in leadership training events and small groups sessions at the Holdsworth Center. These sessions laid the foundation for the work ahead.

    Garland ISD district leaders creating the DLP definition

    The next step was to define what it means to be a leader in our district. It was essential to district leaders that the leadership definition reflected the culture, values and mission of Garland ISD.

    District leadership workshop

    The leadership definition was created using a multi-input process with a diverse range of voices including over 125 students, parents, teachers, principals, APs, central office staff and leaders across the district.

    Participants in Leadership Meeting with facilitator reviewing the potential leadership definition.

    Holdsworth facilitators conducted various workshops with GISD to refine the leadership definition.

    District leadership at Team GISD

    The completed GISD Leadership Definition was presented to district administrators during a Team GISD meeting. The definition will form the framework for our leadership pipeline.

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