It’s easy to understand why, if you are a Head teacher, that the majority of your time and energy is invested in growing and building your school. Without your hard work, dedication and most importantly leadership, success would be a hard thing for your school to come by.
However, although you may be fulfilling your role as the school’s leader and supporting its growth, there is another equally important development area that many Heads neglect. Indeed, it is because this area is often overlooked that many find themselves feeling disillusioned, frustrated and very often burnt out! To stop this phenomenon, Heads must give attention to their own personal growth and development.
School leadership is as much about personal growth as it is about organisational growth and development. On this journey there may be many a time when as a head teacher, you may feel that you are running to stand still!
Events around you may seem to spiral out of your control, accompanied by an internal dissonance, that leaves you with no ready anchor point to bring you back to place of inner equilibrium. In these moments exhaustion can take over and the journey forward can seem more and more of an uphill climb. You may begin to feel:
– Self-doubt, questioning your own judgement and actions.
– Worried about aspects of your life that may not have troubled you in the past
– Anxiety when faced with new and more complex array of challenges
– Loss of control when everything seems to spiral and pressure mounts.
To make matters worse, when you consider voicing your concerns, you may feel that other people won’t fully understand just how you are feeling. A real fear being that if you share your vulnerabilities, colleagues might start to think to that you aren’t up the job (because we all know that head teachers are supermen and superwomen and could never really experience any such human emotions as worry and self-doubt!)
So if this resonates, what can you do to start to change things and to pay greater attention to your own development needs? Well, you can start by simply asking yourself:
“How can I begin to prioritise my own personal growth and development?”
The time that you devote to your own development is essential. If you are serious about finding sustainable ways to support the growth of yourself and others, it really is a non-negotiable. It may mean a paradigm shift and creating a new frame of reference for relating school development to your own, but once the shift has been made, tackling your personal growth will become a much easier endeavor.
To help you along the way, here are three key steps that you can take to support your own growth and development:
How to make sure you grow alongside your School
1. Find a safe space. When we feel safe we are able to let down our guard and come out from behind our defences. We have the honest conversations that we need to have with ourselves and find deeper levels of truth, bravery and courage to guide our responses. New found depths of personal understanding help to bring greater levels of congruency and authenticity to the ‘outer’ work of being a School Leader and leading others.
2. Set a goal. Be clear about the areas that you want to improve upon. To ensure that you set yourself up for success, identify one personal goal that has real meaning for you; one that you know when achieved will have equal benefits for you and your school. Then decide the steps that you will take to achieve your goal. Don’t forget to build in your own reward system too!
3. Stop, Pause & Reflect. Remember, “life can only be lived forwards, but must be understood by looking backwards” To be able to make sense of the parallel journeys of yourself and your school, you must create time to stop, pause and reflect. Seek to build in regular moments in your life as a leader, where you can look back on the past week, month, term or year and look for the lessons that time and experience have taught you about life and School Leadership. For every School Leader the lessons will be different, but nevertheless they will be there!
Without a doubt the pandemic brought many unexpected challenges for us all. However, one of the silver linings of the past two years has been a heightened awareness of what matters most for all of us. We learnt:
– The value of community
– The need to stay connected
– The importance of being supported
We also learnt that deeper connections matter, none of us can survive alone and to thrive and overcome the challenges of leadership life we need real, deep, and meaningful connections with others.
That’s why we have launched our new “Heads Together”, a new School Leadership community, designed to connect like-minded school-leaders and to provide a watering hole for inspiration, encouragement and support.
Our “Heads Together” Community is designed to provide School Leaders with:
– A vital network of support to help individuals manage the emotional strains and stresses of the role
– Collaborative forums for thoughtful exploration around timely and important leadership themes
– Inspiration and encouragement throughout the year to help keep leaders’ passion and purpose alive
If you’d like to find out more about the community, and how it could help support you in your role, simply follow the link below…