Coaching & Leadership Development
What is the Secret to Great School Leadership?

What is the Secret to Great School Leadership?

  There is all kinds of advice out there about what makes a good school leader, from certifications to strategies to taking the latest seminar. But what so many people miss out on what is actually the most fundamental elements of great school leadership – hope.   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 also hope in the sincerity of your vision and the future that you are seeking to create for the children in your school. All school leaders need hope. Not just a spoonful of it – bags of it!   The future we all seek – the future we want to create for our young people – can only be created if you know how to hold onto your hope, your vision, your values and the belief that you can – and you will – make things better for the young people in your school.   We all know hope can be incredibly elusive. When external demands and pressures mount and crisis follows crisis, the light at the end of the tunnel can appear to be a very faint and distant glimmer. In such times, hope is just as essential for our own well-being as rain is for flowers in the desert. From the ever-expanding self-help shelves in bookshops to the growing body of research from the eld of social science, it is clear that hope is a human survival mechanism.   Hope, modern researchers are ending, does more than o er a bit of solace amidst affliction. It...
Why School Leaders need to Learn to Ask for Help

Why School Leaders need to Learn to Ask for Help

  When I first became a Head, I looked at all the other Heads around me and firmly believed that no matter the circumstance, no matter the cost you had to soldier on no matter what.   I wasn’t aware that there was another option and that was, to ask for help. Well, that’s not right. My belief was rightly or wrongly that if I asked for help, it would either be a sign of weakness or it would be used against me. Likewise, there are many reasons why school leaders don’t ask for help but most are rooted in the: – Fear of being judged or what other people will say. – Fear of being seen as weak or as a failure. – Fear of not knowing the answers to problems that have arisen. – Fear that the help that is asked for might not match one’s needs. I see many school leaders express such fears and in today’s high stakes/high risks educational landscape it is understandable. However, by giving into this fear – there is certainly a cost to pay for both our leaders and our schools. As without help, the experience for our school leaders can be both lonely and limiting. Progress is often slow and in extreme cases stunted; neither the individual nor those they lead are able to reach the level of maturity necessary for sustained personal effectiveness. What’s more, by not seeking help – our leaders fail to properly model one of the most important traits of a school leader and one of the most valuable things that any child can learn at school – humanity. After all, whether you...
The 3 Major Emotional Challenges of being a Headteacher

The 3 Major Emotional Challenges of being a Headteacher

  I hear this again and again from those I work with — while they are amazingly prepared ‘on paper’ for raising and maintaining school standards, challenging under-performance, and guiding their school through its next OFSTED inspection, Headship in practice is an entirely different matter.   Behind the role are an array of emotional challenges that must be managed if leaders are to stay in the profession for the long-haul.   So what are these major emotional challenges that face Headteachers today?   1. Heightened Responsibility   When you become a Headteacher, you now carry the full burden of responsibility for delivering the whole school vision and for meeting the needs of a community that believes and trusts that whatever the problem, you can fix it!   Very often it can feel as though you are carrying the full weight of everyone’s expectations on your shoulders. No matter how diverse their expectations might be, from parents to politicians, you are expected to shoulder everything.   On top of this, you now have a myriad of responsibilities, that require you to demonstrate additional expertise as a social worker, child psychiatrist, politician and community worker, all within the space of a day – even though you’ve never been trained in these areas.   What happens when the weight becomes too heavy? With this weight of extra responsibility, some Heads (particularly those new to the role) can feel they have to actively demonstrate to staff and all the stakeholders that they’re going above and beyond for their school and pupils.   Without a strong level of confidence and the tools for effective self-management that support...
My 5 Top Tips for New School Leaders

My 5 Top Tips for New School Leaders

  Stepping into a new school leadership role can be one of the most exciting things you’ll ever do – but it can also be one of the most challenging and the first few weeks can feel daunting as you adapt to the demands of life as a school leader.   To help you manage the transition and help make this time a little less overwhelming, I’ve decided to put together 5 key tips for all those who are embarking on a new school leadership role.   It is my hope that these act as useful guidance and encouragement as you come to terms with your new position and begin to make the role you’re own.   1. Remain connected to your values   Your values are going to be your rock throughout your Headship. They’re what drives your vision, passion and purpose and they’re where your leadership behaviours stem from. People are going to be looking for consistency from you in this new role, and that’s something you just can’t fake — it only comes from being very clear on what your values are, and actively living them day by day.   What’s more, when you’re in crisis (and I know sometimes Headship can feel like one big, years-long crisis!), your values will keep you steady, sane, and committed to the fulfillment of your vision.   2. Get Clarity on your professional and professional vision   Similarly, you need to get some real clarity around your vision, not only for your school and your career, but for your life as a whole. The only way that you will ever...
June’s Story – Counting the Cost of Neglecting the “Soul in the Role”

June’s Story – Counting the Cost of Neglecting the “Soul in the Role”

The current recruitment and retention crisis facing the profession is evidence enough, that the system no longer knows how to keep teachers and school leaders connected to their deep moral purpose and sense of vocation. But… what if there was a way to help teachers and school leaders stay connected to what matters most? –  What if Heads could be helped to overcome the guilt that so many often feel, in regard to having money spent on the meeting of their own personal and professional development needs? –  What if we could help school governors to fully understand the link between a Head’s performance and the meeting of their emotional and psychological needs? – What if we could help everyone to see that if you ‘Take Care of the Soul in the Role’ we all benefit! Our schools, our families, our communities, society at large! It is not an easy task, but it is a possible task and school leaders who chose to travel this road are testimony to the fact that if you are feeling: – Battered by the demands of others – Bereft of self- confidence because of others’ questioning of you – Disillusioned because your values appear out of alignment with others You do not need to give it all up and throw in the towel. For many this point of realisation often comes only after they have had to count the cost of neglecting their own personal needs. As was the case for June, an Integrity client, whose story is shared in this week’s blog… June’s Story   My name is June and I have...