Coaching & Leadership Development
What really is Authentic Leadership?

What really is Authentic Leadership?

  “To thine own self be true”   We often talk about being true to ourselves, but which self are we referring to? The ego or the unconditioned/true self?   The ego is what psychologists refer to as our conditioned or learned self. It is that part of us that when we were younger, helped to give us our sense of identity. As we grew older our ego helped us to navigate the world of both inter and intra-personal relationships. We took external cues from others to help determine what was acceptable and what was not.   In doing so, we often made unconscious adaptations to our behaviours. When in the company of others, these adaptations often served to help us feel safe and ultimately feel accepted.   The tragedy is however, in our later years we often stumble and fall; unaware that these adaptations that were once winning formulas for success, are now acting as blockers to our own self-understanding and are inhibiting our own authentic growth.   The path towards authenticity   From what I have experienced in the education sector our understanding of this and the path towards integrity and authentic leadership is limited.   We talk about helping school leaders to own their moral purpose, to learn from their mistakes and to walk the talk, but a big piece of the conversation is missing.  Because we are so accustomed to focusing on the developmental stages of children and young people, rarely do we consider adult stages of development.   As a result, when it comes to supporting the work of school leaders there is a...
Are our Schools Broken?

Are our Schools Broken?

  “There’s a crack in everything and that’s how the light gets in.”   This being the famous line from the Leonard Cohen song, “Anthem”   When we look at our schools today, many will argue as I have done, that there are cracks, that there are major fault lines across virtually all aspects of our education system and that that it is near to breaking point.   Yet increasingly, it would seem to me, that wherever there are cracks, there are lights, there are beacons of hope; individuals, groups and organisations who are daring to speak out, who are daring to come together to mend the cracks within our system.   These beacons of hope are asking such questions as:   – Is there another way? – How can we improve things? – What else can be done?   The Framework for Ethical Leadership in Education, published by the Chartered College of Teaching at the start of the year, is in my opinion, one of these beacons of hope.   This documents’ raison d-etre is to provide a set of guiding principles for leaders in education, that can offer guidance on such questions as:   – How do we ensure that the language of values and virtues impacts our everyday decision making? – How can we ensure wisdom is modelled by leaders at the heart of our schools and colleges? – How can we revitalise the principles behind our daily work?   Working so closely as I do with school leaders, I know these are the right types of questions that we need to be asking of our...
The 4 Skills of Authentic Leadership

The 4 Skills of Authentic Leadership

This blog comes from executive coach, mindfulness expert and “Education for the Soul” Conference workshop host, Judi Stewart “The only way to learn who we are is to sit down and listen to our minds.” Dr Tracey Stors, Professor of Behaviour and Systems Neuroscience, Rutgers University   In leadership, we often talk about the need to be authentic, but what does this mean?    At its root,  authenticity involves being true to yourself and the essence of who you are as a person. Likewise, on a leadership level, it means making daily choices and actions that are aligned to your vision, values and your sense of vocation.   Working with School Leaders, I have seen that when they lead with authenticity, integrity self-regulation and personal nourishment are hallmarks of their personal leadership style.   The challenge is that in order for leaders to learn to lead authentically, they must first understand themselves.   Because if we don’t know who we are, then how do we know when we are being authentic? Who is this person in this school leadership role and what is the basis of their decision making and relationship with others?   To answer these important questions and help leaders develop the strong self-understanding that is essential for Authentic leadership, I believe there are 4 skills they must work on:   1. Learning to pay attention 2. Clarifying and re-clarifying 3. Being able to objectively describe our direct experience 4. Working with our attitudes   1. Learning to pay attention   If we can’t focus because we are deep in worry, in our ‘to do’ lists or...
Understanding & Managing Emotions – What I’ve Learnt

Understanding & Managing Emotions – What I’ve Learnt

This blog comes from an ex-secondary Headteacher, trainee therapist and “Education for the Soul” Conference workshop host, Tim Small.    I believe I have always been fairly sensitive to other people’s feelings.  This was confirmed once by completing the Myers Briggs Temperament Index.    Though I don’t regret it, this sensitivity made my job as a school leader more difficult, not easier, especially as I didn’t know as much about emotions then as I do now.   I see now that I was actually quite scared by very strong emotions in others, probably because, deep down, I was scared of some un-felt, un-processed emotions in myself.  I would therefore often take refuge either in rationalising or closing them down altogether.   However, through my TA psychotherapy training, I’ve learned that the purpose of emotions is to elicit understanding and evoke a response.  It’s how babies learn to survive.  How successfully we managed this in our infancy, with the vital involvement of our care-givers, will affect our attachment style (i.e. relationships) for life.   As we grow up, an essential aspect of growing into a healthy adult is learning to regulate our emotions: reflecting on them and expressing our authentic feelings safely and appropriately in the context.  This is not the served by suppressing them.   The four ‘primary emotions’, that we need to understand, regulate and express, are sadness, anger, joy and fear.   Sadness is usually about the past, involving loss of some kind.  Fear is about the future, concerning something about to happen, or something imagined.  (It is quite common knowledge that fear activates a neurological response that effectively...
Developing Resilient & Authentic Leadership

Developing Resilient & Authentic Leadership

This blog comes from former Headteacher, executive coach and “Education for the Soul” 2019 workshop host, Samantha Jayasuriya. I have worked as a Head for 20 years. I was appointed to my first post of Headteacher in 1998 after covering for a year for my substantive Head who decided to take early retirement after a bout of ill health.   After 9 years, I then moved to one of the first Co-Headships in the Borough, for a period of 5 years and then onto a full-time role as Head in a different school for a further 5 year. I returned to a Co-Headship for my final year as a Head before I started working full time as a coach.   Suffice to say, overall, I did enjoy the challenges of Headship. As a teacher I had had bucketloads of creativity, but realised as time passed in the early years, as a Headteacher, that my creativity had been squeezed, year after year, dampened by reports, data, and more.   As I unpicked my thinking, I realised that I had also started to hide my authentic self. I found myself distancing myself from the staff and sharing less and less, eager to take on the perceived notion of what a Head should do. I spent more time at home working, rather than relaxing.   As a Head with young children, I did not have any time for me and any downtime was napping in front of the TV. There was a distinct lack of creative endeavour. More worryingly, over the last ten years as a Head, I had very effectively stopped giving myself...