Coaching & Leadership Development
How to Successfully Deal with Difficult Conversations

How to Successfully Deal with Difficult Conversations

  It’s something many of us would prefer not to do and I am sure if you are honest with yourself, you can identify many a time when you have ducked out of having that conversation. You know the one! The one that requires you to tell another just how it is. How it is when they:   – Don’t do as they have been asked – Bristle and have every excuse under the sun as to why something can’t be done – Refuse to take responsibility for the outcome of their behaviours on others   Yet, as a school leader, you know the difficult conversations are the ones that must be had, if you, your team and your school are to continue to develop and grow.   Why are difficult conversations so challenging?     Many find difficult conversations so challenging, because very often we equate difficult conversations with conflict and very few of us have grown up with effective models for dealing successfully with conflict situations. The most common models are those that usually leave individuals feeling powerless and with no sense of their own personal agency.   Individuals were ‘taught’ to do anything for a quiet life and very often that meant keeping quiet, not rocking the boat and agreeing, even when they disagreed simply to keep the peace.   For individuals for whom this is true, when difficult conversation arise, they do not have the correct inner scaffolding for them to feel strong and confident.   Instead they find themselves battling with their own feelings of vulnerability and insecurity, which have arisen from another time...
The Greatest Challenge of Starting a New Role

The Greatest Challenge of Starting a New Role

  It has been well documented that when school leaders change roles and have to step out of their comfort zones, it can take a while for them to find their feet and to regain their equilibrium.  For any new school leader or an experienced school leader in a new role the experience is much the same.   New school environments to get used to, new relationships to build, new structures and systems to develop, all needing enormous investments of time and energy.   I know that it certainly took me some time to really feel that the role of Head Teacher really belonged to me and I that I could take it, shape it and make it my own.   I was excited and full of hope about the plans I had for the children in my school and what could be done to take the school out of special measures. But equally I was fearful too. I was one of the youngest members of staff, how would the other members of staff respond to me? As much as I knew that one of the reasons that I had been appointed was because of my people skills. I also knew that as much as I got on well with people, I hated conflict.   I was great at handling conflict and breaking up fights and disagreements with children, but with adults, that was another matter! Stepping into the role of Head Teacher meant that for the duration of time that it would take me to learn new skills [and in particular the skill of conflict management] I would...
The One Thing that Every School Leader Needs

The One Thing that Every School Leader Needs

  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 is actually the most fundamental elements of good school leadership — trusting relationships.   If you’re like most Heads in our school system, you’re incredibly under-supported. There’s no one you can talk to who really gets your job and all the stresses that come with it, leaving you stuck with coping mechanisms and busy-ness to get you through the day — not a great set up for good leadership. On top of this, school leadership can often feel like a very isolating and overwhelming role.   What is your definition of support?   For me, support is about helping another to carry a load. It is about providing non-judgemental advice and assistance to enable a group or an individual to make sense for themselves on how best to carry the ‘weight’ that they bear.   For support between individuals to be effective, the relationship must involve mutual trust and respect – the two most important ingredients of any nurturing relationship. Day after day, we see the impact that trust has in our children’s engagement with one another, their teachers and other key adults in their lives.   It is also vital as the context for school leaders will always be one of high accountability – and this combined with low trust, often makes quite the destructive combination.   When accountability is high and trust is low, an individual’s thoughts, feelings and behaviours are about self- preservation. When we find...