Book Review

The School Leadership Triangle

From Compliance to Innovation

by Paul L. Kimmelman, Corwin, Thousand Oaks, Calif., 2010, 148 pp. with index, $31.95 softcover


When school leaders feel surrounded by threatening forces, Paul Kimmelman, author of The School Leadership Triangle, offers superintendents a road map so they might become drivers of change rather than victims.


One key aspect of Kimmelman’s work is that he has solicited a wide variety of voices and sources to inform his narrative. Seeking to understand the different perspectives on the power of change is a balanced and thoughtful way to help superintendents understand the debate about what is best for schools.

Along with the viewpoints of Congress and other policy leaders, the author discusses notions of change and leadership from school leaders and business leaders. In an important way, Kimmelman’s framing of the leadership discussion amid these three constituencies echoes his triangle approach to leading change. Appropriately, he affirms the three players are key in managing compliance, leading effectively and guiding innovation.

By looking at several successful organizations, the author, a former superintendent, brings to light innovations that may have potential for our schools to matter in today’s rapidly changing world. And what superintendents are likely to find is that “simple ideas can have profound impacts,” he says, if we can “harness the collective thinking of educators.” Creative problem solving is a necessity.

This work could be a wonderful tool for a book study group in a school district.

Reviewed by Zach Kelehear, professor of educational leadership, University of South Carolina, Columbia, S.C.