When you are in the service of others it is all too easy to put the needs of others before yourself. As a school leader, you’re expected to model compassion, empathy and concern for others on a daily basis. You deliver high degrees of challenge and achieve results based on the trust that you inspire.
However, you know whether you are new in post, or well established and long serving, too often the type of support that you receive is concerned solely with meeting the strategic and operational needs of your role. Your emotional needs are often neglected and this is where support fails. The omission of such support encourages you to sacrifice the meeting of your own needs to meet the needs of those you serve.
This level of giving without moments built into your leadership life to replenish, often lead to illness and for some burn out. To prevent this damaging phenomenon, school leaders need to be supported to engage with their role in a new way; a way that supports the prioritisation of self-awareness, self- management and self-compassion.
Supporting new ways to engage with you role
We all have basic human emotional needs [ see the Table below] although the degree to which we require these needs to be met varies greatly. Our individual identities are dependent on our parenting and life experiences, and how both have shaped our sense of self. One person may need autonomy to feel in control, another may need approval and support from other people.
It can help to reflect on the degree to which you feel your emotional needs are being met, as a springboard for protecting your own well-being and maintaining your performance as a school leader. This short exercise will help you to do just that.
Using a scale of 1-10, where 1 is low and 10 is high, reflect on the list below and give each need a score in relation to how well you think the need is being met for you.
Table 1: Emotional Needs that we need to have met
|Cared about||Included||Treated fairly|
|Clear [not confused]||Loved||Understanding|
What does your score reveal to you?
What are the actions that you can take to ensure your emotional needs are being met in a balanced way?
The Need to be listened to…
Working as a coach with school leaders I’ve witnessed first-hand the emotional cost for school leaders when their emotional needs are not properly met; anxiety, self-doubt, poor decision making and a diminished sense of personal and professional fulfilment.
This can’t continue. Active steps must be taken. Our profession needs to change and show that it knows how to best support our school leaders. So that they can not only survive, but also thrive in their attempts to deliver the best outcomes for our children.
Meanwhile, for their part, our leaders must be supported to take care of themselves!
One of the key elements of this is learning to ask for help, and realising that this is an act of courage, as much as it is an essential act of kindness and compassion towards oneself.
Whatever our goals, whatever our ambitions, we need help to fulfil them. So that when the going gets tough, as it always does, we don’t fall down and remain on the ground, but are supported, so that we can get back up again and, with renewed focus and energy, carry on towards our dream.
So if you want to take charge of your well-being and be supported to best meet the needs of those in your care, I am now offering free “Coaching for The Soul” calls for school leaders to enable you to do just this.
This call will provide you with a confidential, safe, non–judgemental space to spend 30 minutes discussing how you can:
– Achieve a greater sense of clarity about your direction as a school leader
– Gain a clearer perspective on any challenges that you may be facing
– Identify positive steps for moving forward
If you’re keen for support and guidance in your current situation, please do book now!