Coaching & Leadership Development
Are You Trapped in the Sacrifice Syndrome?

Are You Trapped in the Sacrifice Syndrome?

  There’s no denying that you have to make some sacrifices when you’re in school leadership — it’s just part of the job. But what so often happens is that Heads fall into the “Sacrifice Syndrome”; the practice of giving everything of themselves to everyone else, until there’s nothing left.   A pattern of insanity   Of course, it doesn’t start out this way. It normally starts out as “just this once”. But “just this once” becomes “just this twice” and so on and so on until really crazy, unhealthy behaviour seems totally normal. That is, until you get a wake-up call.   It you’ve read “Staying A Head” then you’ll know mine came, when I decided to do a home visit at the end of one school day, even though I was already feeling frazzled and worn down.   The child in question I believed was a star in the making, his mother thought otherwise and within minutes of me entering their home she hurled a torrent of abuse at me. At that moment something inside of me cracked. On another day, at another time, when I wasn’t so tired, I may have found the inner resolve to stand my ground, but there and then words failed me.   I made my excuses and left abruptly. Within moments of entering my car, I cried and I cried, until I had no more tears left to cry. I was worn out, run down and felt an almost insurmountable sense of loneliness and isolation.   The Sacrifice Syndrome quiz   Heads usually have one of two reactions when I tell...

The Light at the End of the Headship Tunnel

It would be ridiculous to even suggest that Headship is easy or always enjoyable. While it is a vocation, it can still be the most frustrating, overwhelming, and consuming role you’ll ever step into. But as one Head to another, I can tell you this: even when things are at their darkest, always hold onto hope.   This too shall pass   It’s easy to lose perspective when things get hard, especially if you don’t have a lot of life outside of school or if you don’t have a good support network. But remember, the good things are always there, even if you can’t see them. You came into this job for a reason — you had a dream for the children, for your staff and your school, and for yourself, and nothing in the day to day can take that away from you.   Set yourself a quest   Sometimes overwhelm is a sign that it’s time to get back to why you became a Head to begin with. This often takes the form of a personal quest, where you go within yourself and really get a sense of who you are, what the role is for you, and a bird’s eye view of your journey that can be invaluable for getting yourself out of fear and overwhelm. So try setting yourself a quest in the form of a series of questions. Ask yourself, “What is it about this role that confirms my identity, my integrity?” Consider what your values are, and where these are being tested. Remind yourself of all your natural strengths, and ask yourself how...