Coaching & Leadership Development

Why Headteachers Need to Learn to Reflect

Why Headteachers Need to Learn to Reflect



As a Head there are many questions that you are called to answer; questions for which you very often have to justify, defend or give account for your actions and decisions made. These questions are very much bound up in the ‘doing’ of the role, the day to day actions by which much of your role is defined.


There are however, another set of questions, which I believe many Heads are called to answer, when they step into the role. Although the reality is, that the frenetic nature of school leadership means that many never even realise this.


As a result, they trudge through the day to day, not knowing, not realising, that their inner dis-ease is a call to stop, pause and reflect and to pay attention to the deeper questions of the soul/the person in the role.


How do I know this?


When I was a Head teacher, I had constant inner ache. I believed that I had been called to be Head of the school that I was in, yet there was many a time when things just didn’t feel right. When times were tough, I had many questions that I needed to ask of others about the role, about the challenges I faced.


As time progressed, I soon came to realise, that those on hand to ‘support me’ where very skilled in providing answers for what I had to do, but no-one, not a single person, was able to offer support and guidance on who I needed to be.


And so, the inner ache remained. I got used to pushing it down, to attributing the inner dissonance to external factors, not realising that all the time it was a call from within, to answer questions about me, the person in the role and who I needed to be.


Time and experience as a coach, has shown me, that this inner ache, is something that many Heads carry with them. Like me when I was a Head, they too have become accustomed to pushing the feeling down and to attributing it to external factors. I have seen that when Heads stop and reflect and acknowledge the true source of this feeling, their experience of Headship changes.


Why? Because they begin to answer the deeper questions of their soul. They begin to answer the questions that are more to do with who they are as a person and the person they need to be, not just to survive (through doing) but to thrive (though being).


When time and space is given to answer ‘being’ questions, the individual is supported to find answers to questions that help to bring greater degrees of meaning, congruency and integrity to their lives.


The challenges of school leadership do not magically disappear. However, individuals find that they are better equipped for responding to the deep emotional and psychological demands of the role. Through reflection they find that their own roots have been nurtured, watered and supported. As a result, showing up as their authentic self, becomes more and more an act of service to self, as it an act of service to others.


Reflection becomes the vehicle through which the deeper questions of personhood and school leadership are answered. It becomes the mechanism through which individuals remain connected to what matters most.


An Opportunity to Reflect


In the frenetic life of a school leader time and space are increasingly rare commodities. With a constant flow of meetings to be held, problems to solve and fires to put out – it can be very hard for leaders to find the time and space to be still and think.


However, without this chance to stop and consider what’s working and what isn’t – many leaders find themselves repeatedly making the same mistakes or simply leading on “autopilot”.This lack of space also means many have very few avenues for exploring and talking through the emotional aspects of the role, the challenges it poses and the impact is having upon them, mentally, emotionally and physically.


In turn, this can (without doubt) increase the risk of emotional ‘burn out’. When this begins to happen, not only do we experience extreme levels of mental and emotional exhaustion that can be debilitating to our ability to lead others, our health and our overall well-being.  Having been a Head myself, I know all too well what this feels like but equally what must be done to prevent it!


That’s why we’re now are offering a “Developing Headspace” Programme, consisting of a 2 Day “Transforming Leadership” Residential in Suffolk, Group Nurture Meals, coaching calls and a half day “Review and a Reflect” session, all designed to support and enhance Headteachers’ capacity for authentic, inspiring and sustainable leadership.


The programme hopes to offer a space for reflection and active, informed listening, for Heads to renew perspective, think strategically, build lasting networks of support and refresh the vitality of their core purpose.

Spread across three school terms, the programme includes a range of activities designed to provide on-going care, support and encouragement for Heads across the school year.

Above all, it is our aim to ensure that the programme supports school leaders in 5 key areas…


Vision: Central to all aspects of the programme are processes and ways of working individually and collectively that keep individuals anchored to their vision.

Values: Heads are supported to identify ways of being that increase alignment with themselves and their key values.

Resilience: As Heads develop a deeper understanding of how they respond to the stresses of the role, individuals are supported to develop greater degrees of emotional, psychological and vocational resilience.

A Values Network: The programme design facilitates the development of new supportive and collaborative relationships with like-minded peers.

Confidence: As individuals experience a growth in self-awareness and appreciation of their core strengths, they also experience a growth in personal conviction and increased confidence in their own abilities.

If you’d like to find out more about the programme, and how it could help support you in your role, simply follow the link below…

Learn more about the Programme

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