99% of principals and assistant principals say their job has become increasingly complex.


81% specifically state that training in executive leadership would be useful.


Principals and assistant principals agree: The role of the school leader is changing, exposing a need for executive leadership training. Eighty-one percent specifically state that training in executive leadership would be useful.

The McKinsey Management Program for School Leaders is an outcome of a powerful collaboration between NASSP and McKinsey Academy—created for and by principals and leadership experts, the program is designed to address the specific needs of educational leadership training.

This leading-edge, online program offers breakthrough content covering the most important aspects of organizational leadership. Using a dynamic online platform and research-based pedagogy, participants walk away with the real-world solutions they need to transform their schools. (Check out EdWeek’s coverage of this innovative program.)

Participants are part of a nationwide community of school leaders—sharing ideas and solutions in course forums and building relationships through group projects.

Each five-to-eight-week course in the program utilizes best-in-class techniques to develop specific management capabilities as well as provides tools, techniques, and real-life examples to enrich school administrators’ leadership skills.

Click the image below to view how district leaders and school administrators interpret the current state of professional leadership development.

This program combines McKinsey’s leadership expertise with NASSP’s knowledge of school leaders’ unique needs and demands.

I got completely invested in it, and it was one of the most powerful trainings I have ever done. I highly recommend the course to principals who are interested in fresh perspectives and suggestions from industry and educational leaders. In the fast-paced world of education, we don’t often have time for reflection, but I received actionable suggestions that have proven very effective in terms of having difficult conversations and setting goals.

– Marilyn Boerke, Principal, Liberty Middle School, Camas, WA


94% of principals feel additional professional development and training opportunities would be helpful in their role.
Yet, only 31% report actually receiving executive leadership training.

Professional development is a priority for principals; the most requested training areas include Communicating for Impact and Team Management. In the past 3 years, less than half of school leaders have received training in these areas and only 59 percent reported benefiting from PD opportunities from their district.

State and district leaders can provide the support school leaders ask for by enrolling them (as groups or individually) in the full three-course program or select individual courses listed below. Each course costs $1,950; the full three-course program is available for $4,900. Cohort-based pricing can be discussed individually.


November 2017 (6 weeks)
Team Management
Learn how to better manage and engage team members, develop your feedback and coaching capabilities, and maximize your team’s effectiveness.

February 2018 (7 weeks)
Communicating for Impact
Learn how to present your ideas effectively, including how to deliver structured, concise, and compelling communications.

June 2018 (5 weeks)
Mastering Challenging Conversations
Learn how to handle challenging conversations and situations including conflict resolution, performance feedback, and reviews.

November 2018 (6 weeks)
Team Management
Learn how to better manage and engage team members, develop your feedback and coaching capabilities, and maximize your team’s effectiveness.

February 2019 (7 weeks)
Communicating for Impact
Learn how to present your ideas effectively, including how to deliver structured, concise, and compelling communications.

June 2019 (5 weeks)
Mastering Challenging Conversations
Learn how to handle challenging conversations and situations including conflict resolution, performance feedback, and reviews.

100 percent of school leaders who have gone through the pilot program reported learning invaluable skills that they plan to use in their schools and districts.

Enroll Now

Would you like to take a “test drive” before committing? Answer a few questions on this form to schedule a brief demonstration at your convenience.

Schedule a Demo

Contact MMPSL@nassp.org to learn more.

I found that the format and organization of the courses allowed for a great deal of flexibility on my time. I could participate and learn from others when my schedule was open. The examples stretched my perspective and challenged me to think differently. The program allows you to connect and collaborate with school leaders around the world—listening to different perspectives on leadership from outside my part of the country expanded my thinking.

– Daniel Kelley, Principal, Smithfield High School, Smithfield, RI

Communicating for Impact

Principals engage with diverse stakeholders to create collaborative and productive relationships for the benefit of the students and the school. Advocating for polices, interacting with families, and providing constructive feedback to teachers require different messaging. Eighty-nine percent of principals surveyed requested training on communication for impact.

Learn to move students, parents, faculty, and staff members to action by carefully structuring arguments, tailoring those arguments to address audience needs, crafting inspiring prose, and delivering your message with personal presence and style.

Contact MMPSL@nassp.org to learn more.

Introduction (1 week)

Learn that the purpose of communication is to move people to action

  • Understand the impact of effective communication and what it takes to be an effective communicator
  • Recognize that effective communicators aren’t “born,” they are the product of hard work and practice

Structure (2 weeks)

Construct logical, convincing arguments using the Pyramid Principle, storylines, and storyboards

  • Communicate the “so what” of your findings by structuring content logically and developing a robust overarching case or governing thought
  • Build logical arguments that lead an audience to your desired conclusion
  • Construct compelling narratives, called “storylines,” and use storyboards to plan your communications

Strategy (1 week)

Learn to choose words and imagery to tailor your argument and speak to the priorities of your audience

  • Articulate your audiences’ needs and points of view using tools such as stakeholder analysis, influence maps, and prioritization matrices
  • Define the position you’d like each audience to take at the end of the communication and what the audience needs from you in order to take that position
  • Select the content and delivery modes that will best reach each audience

Style (2 weeks)

Explore techniques to help you deliver communications with personal presence and style

  • Use rhetorical techniques to maximize the impact of your communication
  • Refine personal presence and gravitas and identify physical characteristics that build credibility
  • Utilize various presentation delivery techniques, such as vocal warm-ups and relaxation techniques, that help speakers deliver better presentations

Wrap-up (1 week)

Check your mastery of the course material

  • Assess your ability to communicate for impact


Takeaway tools and templates

Participants use tools and templates (e.g., the Pyramid Principle and stakeholder analysis) to develop compelling communications in the course and in their schools and districts.

Group work—build a pyramid

Participants construct a pyramid-style argument; McKinsey TAs critique and provide feedback.

Lessons learned from educators

Award-winning educators share their experiences and tips for effectively communicating with students, parents, faculty, and staff members.

Historical examples

Participants analyze the speeches of master communicators (e.g., JFK’s “Man on the Moon”) to identify and articulate the techniques that made them so successful and consider ways to apply these practices to their own work.

Team Management

The Professional Standards for Educational Leaders 2015 highlights that school leaders must develop the capacity and opportunities for teacher leadership, and foster continuous improvement of teachers and staff to achieve outcomes envisioned for each student. Team management is critical to a school success. Principals recognize this need; 83 percent of school leaders surveyed requested team management training.

Learn day-to-day management techniques that build alignment and engagement as well as develop feedback and coaching capabilities to unlock your team’s potential and maximize effectiveness.

Contact MMPSL@nassp.org to learn more.

Introduction (1 week)

Explore the dimensions of effective teams: alignment, execution, renewal

  • Explain the three mutually reinforcing dimensions of top team effectiveness
  • Recognize the characteristics of effective teams (e.g., strong communication, active skill development)

Day-to-day team management (1 week)

Develop tactical skills to build team alignment and support execution

  • Use metrics, performance boards, and daily huddles to build engagement and accountability
  • Use team charters, individual goal-setting exercises, and team barometers to build engagement

Feedback and coaching (2 weeks)

Observe and critique examples of feedback and coaching conversations to identify effective behaviors

  • Challenge assumptions that prevent people from engaging in constructive feedback dialogue
  • Cultivate a “helping mindset” rather than a “scolding mindset” for feedback and coaching
  • Emphasize that feedback flows in all directions
  • Learn a step-by-step approach to deliver objective and constructive feedback
  • Review and critique cases studies and practice using a structured approach to delivering feedback
  • Learn the GROW model to deliver effective coaching Design action experiments to improve individual performance and track progress

Team dynamics (1 week)

Hear from experts about interventions to improve team dynamics and ways to build and sustain trust

  • Self-assess your team’s dynamics along the dimensions of alignment, execution, and renewal
  • Identify barriers to your team’s success (e.g., paralysis and silo thinking)
  • Build an action plan to use day-to-day team management, feedback, and coaching to address barriers

Wrap-up (1 week)

Check your mastery of the course material

  • Assess your ability to manage teams


Real-life examples

Hear stories from senior and mid-level managers in various organizations as well as experienced school leaders from across the country.

Group work—plan a coaching conversation

Participants use the GROW model to prepare for upcoming coaching conversations, practice in their groups, and receive feedback from other group members. Participants leave group work better prepared to coach their staff and faculty.

Feedback and coaching practice

Apply effective feedback and coaching techniques to build distinctive performance. Tackle performance conversations and post-meeting debriefs.

Team dynamics assessment

Participants reflect on dynamics of their own team, hear global experts and experienced educators describe common problems faced by teams, and build an action plan to enhance their teams’ effectiveness.

3/4 Almost 3/4 of principals and assistant principals find engaging parents and the community and mastering difficult conversations to be the most challenging aspects of their jobs today.

Mastering Challenging Conversations

Learn to effectively manage challenging conversations in both internal and external situations to achieve better outcomes by managing your emotions, thinking about the other person’s perspective, and planning and practicing your approach.

Contact MMPSL@nassp.org to learn more.

Introduction (1 week)

Learn what makes conversations challenging and explore how to prepare for and conduct challenging conversations

  • Build awareness of the inner experience that makes conversations challenging
  • Learn a three-part approach to challenging conversations that can be applied to a variety of situations
  • Understand the impact and personal benefit of facing challenging conversations and managing them toward a better outcome

Challenging conversation skills (3 weeks)

Use observation, expert guidance, and simulated conversations to practice preparing for and conducting challenging conversations

  • Explore techniques to manage your own emotions so that you can better reach positive and constructive outcomes to challenging conversations
  • Learn to “sit in the other person’s chair” to better understand and anticipate the thoughts, feelings, and reactions your conversation partner might have
  • Learn techniques to manage in-the-moment reactions from your conversation partner with agility and grace

Wrap up (1 week)

Learn how to apply this approach in various contexts and check your mastery of the course material

  • Understand how the approach is applied and adapted to planned and in-the-moment conversations  as well as with various types of conversation partners (e.g., staff, students, and parents)
  • Assess your ability to conduct challenging conversations


Scenario-based learning

Compelling, realistic videos challenge participants to analyze where difficult conversations go wrong and what to do instead.

Group work—prepare for your conversation

Participants use the three-part approach to prepare for an upcoming challenging conversation and discuss their plans in small groups.

Lessons learned from educators

Award-winning educators share stories and describe how they deal with difficult conversations with students, parents, faculty, and staff members.

Learning through stories

Through a rich set of stories, participants learn by example and gather a set of experiences to apply on the job in schools and districts.