The most important legacy for headteachers to leave to their schools is a capacity to build leadership, Chris Webb, of HMIE, said in his presentation.
But he emphasised leadership, not charismatic leaders, and quoted one authority who said: "If your organisation has only one leader, then it is almost certainly short of leadership."
Mr Webb's comments confirmed that HMIE and the Executive have no intention of letting up on their preoccupation with leadership. He revealed the latest figures, which showed that 81 per cent of primary schools are rated very good or good for their leadership, as are 84 per cent of secondaries.
Mr Webb said that, while this is a "positive picture overall", the fact that leadership is only fair or unsatisfactory in one in six schools is not so good - particularly for those parents whose offspring attend them. There is too much discrepancy when it comes to school leadership, he said, and the Executive plans a specialist unit to achieve more consistency.
Mr Webb also underlined the distinction between leadership and management.
"Leadership is about strategy, while management is about operational effectiveness. You cannot lead if the school is not run well, and vice versa, so they do overlap - but they are different."
He said the best way for a school to develop leadership is not just through attending courses, but on-the-job development, coaching, mentoring, work shadowing and getting different schools working together.