This study presents empirical evidence gathered from higher secondary schools of Madras, India, and indicates a need on the part of the school principals to adopt a democratic style of leadership. It is argued that the principal must adopt reflective practice that combines constant observation, study, implementation and continuous adaptation. His/her influence on the institution he/she leads will be determined largely by his/her awareness of his/her external situation and his/her role perception. Potential academic leaders come in many forms, with numerous styles. Some find their strength in eloquence, some in judgment and some in courage. As academics, we should expose the oncoming generation of educational leaders to the range of normative leadership styles and models that are conceived, crystallized and field-tested around the world. The choice, of course, must be left to each individual head as he/she strives to balance the demands on him/her and his/her resources.