5 Ways to Rediscover the Joy of School Leadership

Do you ever feel like you’re stuck in a rut, going through the motions without any real joy or passion? As a school leader, it’s not uncommon to experience burnout and lose sight of the joy that initially drew you to this role. However, it’s important to remember that happiness is not an elusive dream reserved for others – it’s something you can actively cultivate. By making a few changes and prioritising self-care, you can reignite your passion for school leadership. 

Here are five ways to refresh your perspective and rediscover the joy of leading your school.

1. Reconnect with your “why”:

Take a moment to reflect on why you chose to become a school leader in the first place. Revisiting your values, passions, and motivations will serve as a powerful anchor during challenging times. Set aside dedicated time this week to reconnect with your big why. Evaluate where you are now and identify any gaps between your current reality and your initial aspirations. By bridging those gaps, you can align your actions with your purpose and reignite your passion for school leadership.

2. Cultivate a life outside of school:

Finding balance is crucial to avoiding burnout. Carve out time for activities that bring you genuine joy and allow you to disconnect from work. Spend quality time with your family, pursue hobbies you love, or indulge in a marathon viewing of your favourite TV Box set – something that’ll make you laugh or invite you into another world. You decide, whatever takes your fancy and will help you to escape, if only for a while. Embracing these moments of relaxation and rejuvenation will replenish your energy and provide a well-deserved break from the demands of your job.

3. Seek out moments of joy at school:

Amidst the challenges of school leadership, there are undoubtedly moments that bring you immense joy. Make it a habit to actively seek out these golden moments. Whether it’s joining the school choir rehearsals, reading books to reception class children, or observing their playfulness during break times, consciously find at least one uplifting experience every day. These small joys will serve as reminders of why you embarked on this journey and rekindle your enthusiasm for leading your school.

4. Embrace the power of self-praise:

As a school leader, it’s easy to overlook your own achievements and constantly focus on the challenges ahead. However, recognising and appreciating your accomplishments is vital for your well-being. Try a simple exercise for one week: before going to bed each night, write down three things you did well during the day. By acknowledging and celebrating these small victories, you’ll experience a renewed sense of confidence and motivation. Remember, self-praise is not about arrogance but about preserving your sanity and recognising your worth.

5. Seek support beyond your immediate circle:

While it’s beneficial to have colleagues within the industry for support, it’s equally important to find neutral sources of guidance and understanding. Look for a professional outside of your immediate circle who can offer a non-judgmental space for you to drop the leadership mask and reflect on your experiences. These conversations will provide fresh insights and alternative perspectives, rejuvenating your emotional well-being and equipping you with renewed energy and vigour to tackle the demands of your job. Just like social workers have supervision and corporate executives have space for continuous improvement, school leaders also deserve a safe haven for honest conversations and finding solutions.

School leadership doesn’t have to be a journey devoid of joy. By implementing these five strategies, you can revitalise your passion for leading and find fulfilment in your role. Reconnect with your purpose, create a healthy work-life balance, cherish the moments that bring you joy, celebrate your achievements, and seek supportive relationships outside of your immediate circle. Remember, you deserve to find joy and fulfilment in your school leadership journey, and by prioritising self-care, you can create a more satisfying and rewarding experience for yourself and those you lead.

Would you like to deepen your Reflections?

To help further your reflections, we have created our Headteacher Seven Steps to “Staying A Head” self-assessment. This self-assessment will guide you through key areas of well-being and self-care, highlighted in Viv Grant’s seminal book, Staying A Head: The Stress Management Secrets of Successful School Leaders. It will serve as a starting point for developing a personalised plan to enhance your overall capacity to respond proactively to the demands of your role.

We invite you to take the first step towards prioritising your well-being by completing our Seven Steps to “Staying A Head” self-assessment.

Click here to take our Seven Steps to “Staying A Head” self-assessment and help accelerate your journey towards enhanced self-knowledge, well-being and success.


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