School improvement is admittedly the main business of school leadership. However, for such
improvement to be sustained, a focus on the quality of school leadership is indispensable. To address the issue of
leadership quality, the South African Department of Basic Education has introduced a policy on the standard for
principalship. The policy outlines the standard a typical South African school principal is expected to meet.
Underpinned by the assumption that improving the quality of school leadership requires a strong connection
between leadership theory, policy, practice and context, this paper seeks to examine the implications of the new
policy for the South African school principals. The paper is based on the review of the literature on leadership
practices and the emerging standards for school leadership applied in selected countries. It highlights the importance
of providing policy implementation infrastructure and concludes by suggesting possible strategies for effective
implementation of the policy.