When you take over as Principal, fresh from PGT status you may have all the differences of the Principal with whom you served and you would make a solemn resolve that you shall avoid all those pitfalls or if you are taking over a school on transfer you would like to fish out information regarding the mistakes, errors, and blunders your predecessor had committed and you would assure the staff that they are coming to start on a new slate. Both are not correct.

A school is a growing organism. It has been there before you. It will be there after you also. On arrival as a fresher Principal, avoid the temptation to act like a new born. Talk less – observe more. Allow the school to function as before. Observe the ground realities first. What is what and who is who, understand each staff, whose thinking is aligned with you, who is an agent, who is diametrically opposite, who is ambiguous, who is serpentine, who is a doubting Thomas, who prefers status quo, who is creative and innovative. Find out the various aspects of the school working – which one need modification, which one need to be discarded, who will be helpful, relationship with media – present position how it can be taken till forward, keep your eye and ears to the ground, That is your seismograph – your Richter scale.


Sri T. S. Avinashilingam

What are the ground realities you have to read and respond? First you must know to read your boss. Whenever the director Sri T. S. Avinashilingam called the author for a discussion, he used to go thoroughly prepared, spending quite a few weeks over it. At the end of an hour meeting, the author used to think what really nailed it. Rev. Ayya (TSA) would pick out a sentence from our presentation and say, “would you kindly clarify this a little more for me” but once the author started explaining he would understand that he had got it wrong. Sir T.S.A had a razor sharp intellect which could pin point what is wrong and tear through you. The author used to wonder why he never thought about it himself. Sri T. S. A. had the ability to connect the dots across absolutely different things. Later on, the author could do this with his own staff who understood that whenever they went to the Principal they should go thoroughly prepared.


In the industrial field Pramud Bhasin who was CEO of Genpact had the same ability.

HR(Human Relations) is a very important aspect of the management of ground realities. In February 1962, when the author visited London on his way back from USA, he was taken by his friend to an Indian Hotel where his friend ordered a ‘Dosa” for him. He narrated an interesting anecdote relating to dosa and our famous tennis player Ramanathan Krishnan . In 1956, he beat the great Jaroslav Drobny on the Centre court in the first round in the four sets. Drobny had been the Champion two years back. Our prime minister Jawaharlal Nehru happened to be in London at that time. He invited Krishnan and Naresh kumar for breakfast. It seems Indira Gandhi was thoughtful enough to serve him a Dosa!

Tennis player Mr. Ramanathan Krishnan

This story had a lesson to the author. On his return when he was posted as Deputy Director and later on in KVS as Principal and Education Officer, he used to invite his staff for lunch or tea with him when they had done some good work. Beforehand he used to gather information about which item he / she liked much and include that item in the menu. They would be pleasantly surprised and they became his good friends and allies.

Another important reality you have to remember is that you are not the BOSS because you have several bosses to whom you are answerable, apart from  your usual bosses in the higher ranks of the hierarchy, every staff, every student, every parent, every member of the community is your boss. Because of this only, whenever the author took charge of a school as Principal, he used to tell in the morning assembly on the first day:-

“I am happy that KVS has given me an opportunity to be the first servant of this school from today”

Every  “Customer’s needs have to be treated as being of paramount importance.

In the team working with you, you will have quite a number of sheep but also a few ‘cats’.

Normally Principals recruit members who will not be a challenge or a treat to their position and who will fall in line easily.

Then your time will be spent only on giving instructions, tracking and managing each one. In the end, you won’t have any time for visioning, conceptualizing and strategizing.

Sheep don’t disagree. They are “yes masters”. So, it is okay for you. Only if you are insecure and lack confidence and faith in yourself you will pick sheep.

Cats are a different breed. They have minds of their own. They are highly individualistic. But in a group ‘Cats’ act as stimulants, fast on action and test your managerial skills.

Sri Veeraraghavan, Maths PGT of KVS Coimbatore and Sri K. Swaminathan, Physics PGT of KV HUF Avadi were two such whom the author liked very much for their frequent counter points and lateral thinking.

If you wish to succeed, get as many cats as possible in your team (In a private school, this is possible) if you want to be known as one capable of building teams.

Half the work is over when you get the right team and other half is efficiently leading them to achieve the objective.     “Cats” will take care of the first half and they will also make your life challenging enjoyable and interesting (if you know how to work with them).



– Dimensions of the Life and Work of a Principal –

354) One who thinks before he speaks and also will not deny what he has said.

355) One who asks himself,

People dislike only my way of doing things and not me. Can I change my ways and how?

356) One who knows that he can grow only when he can find fault with himself.

357) One who asks, “How much am I worth before valuing others?”

358) One who can differentiate between me and myself and thinks of others problems as often as he thinks of his.

359) One who knows that the meaning of everything he sees outside lies within himself.

360) One who knows that relationships should be built not on the basis of barter but upon understanding and that he should not cage anybody by his concern and knows how much of his freedom he should be prepared to lose in order to build relationships.

361) One who can belong to a person who is not possessing about aim.

362) One who is fully involved in his work and not pre-occupied with his work.

363) One who asks himself,

Do I want to grow before the other person?

Do I want the other person to grow before me?

And sees that both grows.

364) One who knows that empowerment does not mean asking others do what you want to get done.

365) One who knows to think beyond what he knows and capable of identifying the blocks which hold his thinking back.

366) One who gives 100% of his knowledge and talent to any work he does.

367) One who finds his life being more meaningful at any time because of things that transcend reason and logic.

368) One who,

i) is of a standing up type

ii) makes choices out of his free will

iii) holds himself accountable

iv) never holds a revenge

v) lives out of conviction

vi) finds the answer in the question itself

vii) uses the past to understand the present

viii) is prepared to sacrifice what he loves most for those whom he loves most

ix) does not get caught with life

x) is conscious of the different roles he plays in life

xi) is aware of what he is and what he is capable of being

xii) has a process of filtering what reaches his mind

369) One how knows that when his growth becomes his need, every effort of his will become an invasion into his space and he will start asking questions.

370) One who knows that he will gain much only when he relates with someone without expectations.

371) One who knows that if he does not try to try, it is fated for failure.

372) One who works for the sheer joy it gives and not for being assessed by others.

373) One who always adds value to his as well as to others’ work.

374) One who knows that if he has a conflict with a staff it means that he is fighting a part of himself through that person.

And that most of the conflicts are the result of unresolved conflicts within himself.

375) One who knows himself,

Which I say I am innocent,

How innocent am I of my innocence?

376) One whose happiness never makes another person sad.

377) One whose present is different from the past helping him to create a new future.

378) One who need not lie because he is true to himself.

379) One who never feels bored because he knows how to utilize his time and energy.

380) One who doesn’t get cocooned in what he has become but finds out ways which will take him further and farther.

381) One who uses his intelligence to do what has to be done and not what he wants.

382) One who knows to let go.

383) One who is not dependent on others dependence upon him.

384) One who knows that what he stands for is more important than whom he stands for.

385) One who knows that,

Conscience will allow him to operate out of awareness.

Ego will make him operate out of knowledge.

386) One who keeps these 3 aligned will –

Where he is,

Where he need to be,

Where he wants to be.

387) One who has,

The innocence to see everything fresh.

The maturity to learn from everything.

388) One who allows his staff to exercise their freedom who doesn’t make them free to do what his freedom demands.

389) One whose openness helps him see the visible.

Awareness helps him see that which is beyond the visible.






  1. Sukarthang Samson
  2. B.N.Goswamy
  3. Chattophadaya
  4. Gary Kristen
  5. Khalil Gibran
  6. Martin Buber
  7. Erma Bombeck
  8. Brahma Kumaris
  9. O.Wilson
  10. John Adams
  11. Flute Mali
  12. Rohul Amun (BODO leader)
  13. V.Sekhar (Artist)
  14. Sir John Wagerty
  15. Jyothika (Actress)
  16. Marino Cuomo
  17. Abhaswaram Ramji
  18. George orwell
  19. Swami Sukhabhodananda
  20. Wayne Bennell (Rugby coach)
  21. Ephraim Engelman (Rheumotologist)
  22. Kumar birla
  23. Lord Krishna
  24. Vince Lombardi (Rug ball player)
  25. Mark Tanin


The teachers of tomorrow are the students of today. – Sri Sathya Sai Baba

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