Coaching & Leadership Development
The 4 Most Damaging Leadership Habits

The 4 Most Damaging Leadership Habits

    A while back, I wrote a  piece on the “7 Habits of Highly Effective Headteachers” . The piece proved to be very popular and appeared to resonate with many who read it.  Taking a lead from the words of Stephen Covey – “If I really want to improve my situation, I can work on the one thing over which I have control – myself’” the paper sought to help school leaders reflect on the behaviours that could lead to greater effectiveness in their roles.   In this short resource, I explained amongst other things, why Heads need to be guided by their values, be honest with themselves, move out of their comfort zones and focus on the positive, if they are to keep their hope alive and succeed in their roles.   However, the paper didn’t explore in detail detrimental habits; habits which if left unchecked, can adversely impact school outcomes and individuals’ capacity for staying in the profession for the long-haul.   So, having pondered this, this blog considers four key habits that I believe school leaders need to be aware of, so that they do not sabotage their efforts to lead and be the very best that they can be…   1. Putting Yourself (and your needs) Last   One of the most harmful leadership habits is failing to take proper care of yourself and your physical, emotional and psychological needs. In a role where an enormous amount of emotional energy is expended – meeting the needs of others, it is vital that time is given to replenish your emotional and mental resources. As when...
How to Make the Most of the School Holidays

How to Make the Most of the School Holidays

    When you are working in a school, engaging day-to-day with children and their families, teachers, support staff, governors and other adults, you will know that you expend great amounts of mental, physical and emotional energy meeting the emotional needs of others.   The long meetings, difficult conversations and fires you’ve had to put out over the course of the term (whether you realise it or not) are very likely to have taken their toll on you and your energy levels.   That’s why it’s so important that you use your holiday time to really switch off from the pressures of running a school, sit back, relax, re-charge your batteries and above all, focus on your emotional needs.  If you don’t, you will return to school not as emotionally and mentally robust as you need to be for the inevitable challenges.   If you need a little help winding down over the holiday break or planning how you’re going to make the most of your school holidays, then it’s perhaps worth bearing in mind these 6 key tips…   1. Make a plan for your work   Statistics from the Institute of Leadership & Management (ILM) report that 3 in 5 Brits don’t leave their work behind when they’re on leave and feel “obligated” to take work with them on holiday, even when travelling abroad.   But breaks are incredibly important; you need this time off to truly wind down. Yes, there may well be work that needs to be completed before you can fully settle into the holiday routine. If that is the case, take control of it and tackle it...
Why School Leaders Need to Share their Story

Why School Leaders Need to Share their Story

    “Stories are the secret reservoir of values: change the stories individuals and nations live by and tell themselves, and you change the individuals and nations.” Ben Okri   Stories are not just for the young. They are for all of us. Stories when told well, by-pass the defences and barriers of the rational mind and connect with something deeper that resides within us all. It is my belief that, that something deeper, that essence of what connects us all, that shared humanity has been weakened by current narratives of competition, isolation, scarcity and lack within our education system today. To change the corrosive effect of this current narrative and related stories, we need to encourage more school leaders to share different stories.   We need more school leaders to share their unique stories of:   – Courage – Hope and – Vulnerability   Stories that have less to do with the ‘doing’ of the role and more to do with the ‘being’.   We need more school leaders who are prepared to stand out from the crowd. We need school Leaders who are prepared to show how high expectations can sit equally alongside, humility, compassion and hope.   We need more school leaders who are prepared to tell stories of how they have gone against the grain and re-written for themselves the notion of what it means to be a leader. Leaders who have said, “No, I will no-longer be defined by my persona, but by the values that I hold dear.”   Equally, we need more school leaders who are willing to talk about the vulnerability...
The Story of the Cracked Pot

The Story of the Cracked Pot

  Recently I spoke at a coaching conference on the topic of “Leading from Within.” I chose to speak on this topic, because now, perhaps more than ever, I have seen an increasing need for school leaders to pay attention to the inner work of school leadership and for them to recognise that it is just as important as the outer work.   In a climate in which they are continually compared to others or given labels that suggest they are ‘less than’, school leaders need to be aware of the corrosive nature of these external narratives and the degree to which they deride personal narratives of self-worth and value.   Sometimes it is hard for school leaders to see the extent to which external narratives have shaped their own inner landscape and have caused them to doubt their own unique strengths, capabilities and contributions that they make to the education system. So, during my talk, I chose to illustrate this point with a story: The story of ‘The Cracked Pot’   As you read through this story ask yourself:   – Which aspects of this story resonate with me and why? – How can this story help me to reshape my inner story? – Who/where are the water carriers in my life? What role do they play? – If there are no water carriers in my life, what can I do to rectify this? – How can a ‘water carrier’ help me to change/edit my story as a school leader?   The Cracked Pot   There once lived a water carrier. Every morning, as soon as the sun...