Coaching & Leadership Development
Is there a place for Vulnerability as a MAT CEO?

Is there a place for Vulnerability as a MAT CEO?

This blog comes from the Chief Executive Officer of Folio Education Trust, Jonathan Wilden People’s immediate answer to whether vulnerability is a suitable trait for a CEO would probably be absolutely not. Under no circumstances should a successful leader show any form of weakness.    However, I feel this is too simple an understanding of what ‘vulnerability’ means in the context of leadership. Rather than translating as “showing weakness”, I believe vulnerability can be better understood as a human characteristic that involves being more open, more sensitive and at times becoming a more acquiescent leader, to allow the actions of others to develop and prevail.   Jim Collins in his description of a Level 5 leader, describes an individual who displays both ‘humility’ and ‘will’ – both of which are key elements of vulnerability and are two traits with which I have tried to build my professional career upon.   Certainly being ‘human’ and embedding empathy within our decision making could be interpreted as a softer more vulnerable side of leadership, which can bring more positive change and motivation from those that we lead.   I think that there is a strong human trait and a sense of vulnerability which is present in the best and most effective CEOs. As Jim Collins describes in his book ‘Good to Great’, there is nothing wrong with a Level 4 ‘effective’ leader who drives towards a clear and compelling vision, but they can lack that personal humility which can effectively compliment a professional will present in the vast majority of CEOs.   I suppose those interested in becoming a Level 5 CEO must ask...
What are the habits of an Effective MAT CEO?

What are the habits of an Effective MAT CEO?

This blog comes from the Chief Executive Officer of Folio Education Trust, Jonathan Wilden   In 2013, I was appointed to the position of Headteacher having been Deputy Headteacher in the School since 2010.   Following a rigorous external advert and interview process, I was in the fortunate position of being able to continue the work that I had already started in changing the school in its journey to becoming Ofsted outstanding which it finally achieved in 2017.   2013 was a very important year in my career development and remains a time which I reflect upon, now that I have moved from Headteacher to CEO. Two small but significant things happened. Firstly, following my appointment to my first Headship, the then retiring Headteacher came into my office smiling and through a book on my desk telling me to read it. He left chuckling to himself. The book was entitled ‘What got you here, won’t get you there’.   While this may come across as being mean it wasn’t. In the care free act of tossing me a book the message was clear – ‘you have been great but make sure you think about how to approach the next few years – don’t be the same person’. At the time I thought, ‘Don’t worry I will be fine’, but on reflection I needed that message. As being a Deputy is not the same as being a Headteacher and just like becoming a CEO is different to the role of Headship.   The second incident in 2013 was within my first Half Term as Headteacher. During this time I clearly hadn’t...
The 4 Key Qualities of Authentic School Leaders

The 4 Key Qualities of Authentic School Leaders

  Recently, I’ve been considering one question that I believe is very important to our education system today…   What does it mean to be an authentic school leader?   My reflections on this question brought me to the work of author and authenticity expert, Brené Brown who defines it as “the choice to show up and be real, to be honest and let our true selves be seen”.   Yet as many school leaders often find and Brown points out, being authentic isn’t easy. It involves “choosing being real over being liked” and putting your True Self out to the world which can be both uncomfortable and daunting.   However, whilst there is a risk, there’s also a lot to gain. Brown explains that this authenticity is also crucial for building trust, believing in oneself, facilitating better communication and cultivating genuine human connection. Features which, I believe are vital in our schools as we seek to nuture within our children a healthy sense of what it means to be human.   In my time working with School Leaders, I’ve also witnessed first-hand the enormous difference greater authenticity can make to school leaders themselves; in terms of the decisions they make, the leader they have been able to become and the school cultures they’ve been able to create.   But what does an Authentic School Leader look like, what qualities would you expect to see?   Well, I believe there are four qualities that you will often find in an Authentic School Leader…   1. They are deeply connected to their passion and purpose   Authentic school leaders know themselves,...
The 3 Habits of Resilient School Leaders

The 3 Habits of Resilient School Leaders

  “In solitude one is not alone; once is present to oneself” James Hollis   One of the things that I love to do at the end of a week, is to find a quiet place; switch off from the outside world and look inward. Pressing the pause button at regular intervals has become a deliberate and conscious act for me. It is how I regain my equilibrium.   It is how I build my own levels of resilience. It is how I become present to myself and attentive to the life lessons that have unfolded for me during the course of a week.   Many resilient school leaders have a similar ritual or practice in place. They know that time alone, or indeed a time alone with another, that facilitates a sense of being present to one self helps them to do three key things:   1. Deepen their self–understanding: They know that a better understanding of themselves, will also help to foster a richer and deeper understanding of others.   2. Develop emotional resources: They recognise that their emotional resources ebb and flow in relation to the demands of the role and that it is necessary to find ways to replenish.   3. Sustain a sense of vocation and purpose: They know without a process that connects them back to their ‘Why” it can become all too easy to get caught up in the detritus and trauma of school life.   These resilient school leaders have come to recognise as the author Parker J Palmer often says:   “The primary challenge is to help people develop a...