Coaching & Leadership Development
The 10 Books Every School Leader Should Read

The 10 Books Every School Leader Should Read

  Recently, I’ve been finding that I’m increasingly asked by the School Leaders I work with and by others who’ve read my book “Staying A Head: Stress Management Secrets for School Leaders” for recommendations as to what books can help them to further their learning and in turn, better support their leadership practice. I’ve noticed more and more that I frequently refer leaders to the same books time and again, not for lack of ideas but rather because they are quite simply the best I’ve come ever come across in the field, in terms of both inspiration and expertise. In fact, I recommend these books so frequently that I thought I’d create a list of these 1o books for you in case you ever need a great book to help alleviate the stress of the day-to-day and bring a sense of perspective back into their lives. I hope amongst the recommended titles, that you might find a book or two that you’d like to add to your reading list…   1. The Element: How Finding  Your Passion Changes Everything Author: Ken Robinson We all love Sir Ken Robinson and eagerly await the day when he is appointed Minister of Education! Until that day, we’ll all have to take comfort from his inspirational TED talks and this wonderful book. If you are ever in need of inspiration and a reminder of why you are a teacher or head teacher then read this book. It will make you laugh, it will make you smile, and it will remind you of what passion is all about and why each and every day you need to remain connected...
What happens when School Leaders sacrifice their Well-being?

What happens when School Leaders sacrifice their Well-being?

  Recently I’ve been reflecting on my time as a Headteacher and in particular, one day in my Headship. On this day, I had a jaw-dropping revelation which transformed my experience of Headship and made me realise the reality of School Leadership needed to change.   Whilst this story is not necessarily a happy one for me, I’ve learnt that I truly believe that if we are to overcome the often overwhelming feelings of isolation that many school leaders feel, then we need to get better at sharing ‘true’ stories about the cost of school leadership. As when we do so, it helps to remind us that we are not alone and others may have shared similar experiences to our own.   This was the day that I realised I was sacrificing my well-being…   Tiredness becoming the Norm   Like many school leaders who I’ve met and coached since I left Headship, I came to accept tiredness, emotional overload and irritability as the norm. Nothing that I either observed or saw amongst my peers contradicted this perception; everyone was just so good at grandstanding that I believed we were all super human and had no need to have our emotional needs met.   Yet despite buying into the myth, I can recall countless moments when I gave and I gave and I gave. There were moments when I cried from the sheer exhaustion of giving all of the time but never stopped long enough to question the relationship between my inner emotional state and my outer performance as a leader. I just kept on going. Until one day…I decided to make a home visit to one of...
4 Well-being Habits Headteachers Should Adopt Today

4 Well-being Habits Headteachers Should Adopt Today

  If School Leaders are to maintain our vocational vitality, one of the most important things they can do is care for the well-being of their inner self; their world of thoughts, feelings and emotions.   For to underestimate the importance of taking care of the person in the role, is to forget or misunderstand what the role is asking of educators. The role asks that you not only drive school improvement, but that you meet the emotional needs of others, who may tussle and argue with directives for improvement.   It is a role that demands an enormous amount of emotional energy to be expended on a daily basis. For this reasons, actions need to be taken to balance the books and replenish that energy to support oneself in the role. On top of this, habits need to be developed that will sustain our leaders for the long haul as they pursue the best futures for their children.   Those who don’t make their well-being and renewal a priority, however, can find themselves end up carrying a huge emotional debt, becoming increasingly overdrawn and with no readily identifiable means for bringing their emotional account back into credit.   When this happens, these leaders can find themselves heading on a path toward burn-out, a situation which can culminate in one’s passion and performance both suffering as a result.   So what are the habits that can serve to nurture our Headteachers and their vocational vitality?   Well I believe that there are 4 habits that can help to support the well-being of our School leaders…   Habit 1: Learn to accept praise   Most school leaders...
The 4 Lessons Every School Leader Needs to Learn

The 4 Lessons Every School Leader Needs to Learn

“Hope … that stubborn thing inside of us that insists, despite all evidence to the contrary, that something better awaits us, so long as we have the courage to keep reaching, to keep working, to keep fighting” Barack Obama   I know that if you are a head teacher or a senior school leader reading this, you would not have reached where you are now, if you didn’t know how to harness the power of hope. Hope not only in yourself, but in the sincerity of your vision and the future you are seeking to create for the children in your school.   There are times we know, when amidst the chaos of school life, hope can feel incredibly elusive.  If you are feeling like that, right now, this blog is for you.   Here are the four key lessons that I have discovered as a coach are essential for helping school leaders keep their hope alive and ensuring that they perform at their best.   Lesson 1: Learn to keep one eye backward and another eye forward   The Danish philosopher, Kierkegaard has been credited with saying, “Life can only be understood backwards, but it must be lived forwards.”   In essence he is saying in order to live more fully and to make progress with our lives, we need to have a process in place that enables us to develop a greater understanding of our own life journeys. When we have such processes in place, we can continue our journeys with far deeper levels of wisdom and insight.   Throughout your life as a school leader, there...
How to Stop Yourself & Your Values from Being Compromised

How to Stop Yourself & Your Values from Being Compromised

  I have recently been introduced to the work of Irish author and poet, David Whyte. One of his books that I have  found impossible to put down, “The Three Marriages – Reimagining work, self and relationship” is a book that I would highly recommend to any head teacher or school leader. In both poetic and poignant terms, he shows us how we can show up as our true authentic selves across all areas of our lives.   If you are a head teacher or a school leader, you know that authenticity brings the greatest joy and the greatest challenge. You know the feelings of exhilaration that are experienced when you see the evidence around you of your vision being fulfilled. Equally you know just how disconcerting it can feel and the negative impact circumstances can have on on your own well-being when:   – Your values are challenged – Situations beyond your control ask you to compromise on deeply held beliefs – Others disregard who you are and make demands for you to behave in ways that are out of character   Being authentic means digging deep   To rise above these challenges you need to be able to dig deep and have a personal reservoir that you can constantly draw from. David Whyte refers to this personal reservoir as an ‘inner well’ and says, “Often our inability to draw on that inner well can become more and more painful, the further we get from the water. If we are involved in the outer world in ways that betray our conscience or deeply held beliefs, then ever simple...