Coaching & Leadership Development
Redefining Leadership: The Death of the “Hero-Head”

Redefining Leadership: The Death of the “Hero-Head”

This blog comes from Headteacher of Brundall Primary School, Rick Stuart-Sheppard.   What is being a leader?  What does leadership actually entail? How much does our perception of what a leader looks like simply depend on our age, generation and unquestioned stereotypes?   I’ve been pondering this because I’ve never felt comfortable hanging my suit on the hanger of Headteacher as Hero-leader or “SuperHead”. This is not because I haven’t known some heroic heads doing wonderful things in challenging situations. But rather because there’s always more to them and what they were doing than being a Sheriff walking into town, brandishing a six-shooter and announcing ‘this is how it’s going to be in my town from here on.’ *Pause for blowing the smoke away from the barrels.*   This conception of the Head as Hero has been on the rise for many years now, intensified by the drive towards academisation. Indeed, Mr Gove is alleged to have remarked he would have liked to clone a particular favourite Head of his 20 000 times and this would be progress towards solving educational problems in the UK.  He also picked another ‘hero’ Head to lead Ofsted, with painful results.   A different view of leadership has further deterred for me this idea of a Hero-Head and crystalized my thoughts.  Back in October, I encountered Geoff Mead (author of ‘Storytelling: The Heart and Soul of Leadership’) at the “Education for the Soul” Conference run by Integrity Coaching.  In reading Geoff’s book after the event, I was struck by a definition of leadership that he put forward, namely that leadership involves ‘making meaning...
5 Most Popular School Leadership Blogs of 2018

5 Most Popular School Leadership Blogs of 2018

The end of the calendar year is always a great opportunity to reflect and be thankful for those who support and inspire you over the 12 months. This year, in particular, we’ve been very grateful and fortunate to have a number of fantastic bloggers and leaders within education sharing their brilliant insights with us around leadership, well-being and school performance in our weekly blogs. So with not long left in 2018, we thought this would be a great opportunity to look back to some of our most widely read blogs of the year… 1) “How 12 Years of Headship Changed Me” – Geraldine Foley     In this touching story, Cardiff Headteacher, Geraldine Foley shared openly and honestly the struggles she experienced in her role several years ago. In the blog, Geraldine poignantly recounts how by giving so much of herself into the role on a daily basis and putting her well-being last, she began to lose touch with her friends and even herself. “That’s what twelve years of headship had done to me. I became the shadow of the person I used to be. I tried to hide it from everybody, from my family to the people at school. I managed to keep a lid on it, but then it started to unravel…” She describes how ending up in hospital with black-outs made her realise things had to change, seek out coaching and make real changes to her life – and the transformational impact that these had on herself and in her school.   Read more 2. “Returning from Maternity Leave was my Hardest Challenge – Secret Headteacher     This secret Headteacher blog came from...
“Returning from Maternity Leave was my Hardest Challenge”

“Returning from Maternity Leave was my Hardest Challenge”

  *The author of this blog has asked to remain anonymous I have been a Head teacher in a North London Primary school for 13 years now. In that time, like most Heads – I’ve had to endure some very challenging circumstances, with the rise of personal accountability, frequent changes to the curriculum and depleting school budgets.   However, perhaps one of the biggest challenge I’ve ever faced in my role was when I came back to my Headship after my maternity leave.   My Deputy head had just had a taste of being a Head teacher. As a result, she decided to leave to take up her own headship and so I found myself having to form a new School Leadership team.   To make matters worse, not long after I returned, we were inspected by OFSTED and we went into “required improvement”. Before I even had chance to settle back into my role, I was suddenly having to deal with the extra stress and challenges of improving our school’s rating.   It felt as though everything had changed in the five months, I’d been away and that the job was un-recognisable from the one I left. Before I went on maternity leave I was quite confident about my Headship, but when I returned I suddenly felt like I had lost the conviction with which I used to lead.   As a leader, losing your self-confidence can be one of the hardest things. I began to second-guess my decisions, question whether I could do the job anymore and I constantly felt that I couldn’t cope. To have to...
How can School Leaders improve Staff Well-being? – Expert Interview

How can School Leaders improve Staff Well-being? – Expert Interview

  This expert interview is with IC Associate, executive coach and author of bestselling book “101 Playground Games and 101 Wet Playtime Games and Activities”, Thérèse Hoyle.   Q1. What does Well-being look like?   Wellbeing for me means my body, mind and soul being in harmony. Now this  is often quite challenging as we live in such a fast-paced world, with so much change going on and disharmony around us and we can easily get caught up in this.   It can also sometimes be hard to identify when we’ve got this harmony exactly right. Fortunately, our bodies are such great indicators of well-being and will often let us know when we aren’t in harmony with some quite obvious warning signs.   I know that over the years, because I’ve always expected a lot from myself, I’ve had several periods where I’ve crashed and become sick. For me, this is a warning sign that always tells me that I’m doing too much and that I need to adapt my lifestyle. It shows me that I need to look after myself better and focus on creating habits and a lifestyle that means I can be the very best I can be in the world.   Now I think it’s normal to go off-course like this now and again, as long as we always reel ourselves back in.  I often explain to my clients that that life is like an airplane journey. From the time you take off, you will be off course 99% of the time. All airplanes are off course 99% of the time. The purpose and role of the pilot and the avionics is to continually bring the...
My Biggest Regret as a Headteacher

My Biggest Regret as a Headteacher

    Over the last few weeks, I’ve been reminiscing on my experience of Headship, the many golden moments and times of great happiness, joy and laughter – but also the numerous challenges, stresses and struggles that came with the role.    As I reflected, I was struck that I was not left feeling rueful by my memories. As with time, I have come to realise that with each and every difficulty, I experienced moments of deep growth and development (even if it hurt at the time!)   However, having said that, there was one thing that did stand out as a regret. Something that has stayed with me to this day. Had this one thing been present, I am 100% sure my whole experience of Headship would have been completely different.   It’ll probably come as no surprise to many, particularly those that know my story, that when I look back on my years as a Headteacher, this big regret is that I didn’t have a coach.   I can’t understate the difference it would have made if I’d had a trusted, external, companion to walk alongside me. Not just to problem solve and talk through the inherent challenges of the role, but for me personally, I just wish I’d had someone to accompany me through the major transitions that I experienced as a Head.   Certainly when I look back there were three major transitions that I now know, I would have progressed through differently had I had a coach…   1st Transition – Moving from acting Headship to Substantive Headship and Motherhood (both at the same time!)   Whenever, I tell others...