Why Every School Leader Needs Time out for Themselves

I know it isn’t easy, when you’re a School Leader to put yourself first. I know because I have been there. The early mornings, the late nights, the lost weekends.
There were times when I cried out of sheer exhaustion and could find no way to make sense of the mayhem in my head. The demands upon me felt relentless and I mistakenly believed that the only way to meet those demands was by pushing my own needs to the back of the queue and putting everyone else’s first.
Now with the benefit of hindsight and the immense personal development journey that I have been on since leaving headship, I realise that this way of operating is neither healthy or productive. At some point everyone suffers. We may convince ourselves that this isn’t so, but deep down inside we know it’s true.

Self-Sacrifice should not be the norm!

What saddens me most, is that in this present climate we have come to accept self sacrifice as the norm for School Leaders. If there is a price to pay for high standards, it would seem that the diminished health and well being of our School Leaders is seen as a fair exchange.
I think differently! It is too high a price to pay! You matter, your health matters, and you can only fully deliver on your vision for your school, if you are happy and healthy!
However, experience tells me that if you are a School Leader, guilt often gets in the way of you taking time out for yourself. You worry about what other people might think and say if you are not in school, if you are not seen to be busy.
But if we are going to bring any sense of humanity and compassion back into the profession, then we have to begin by helping you to overcome the guilt, that many School Leaders feel when they think about putting their own needs first.
Taking this time to have your own needs met is not luxury but a necessity and it is a necessity for the following 3 reasons…

1. Escape the Information Overload


You know that there always comes a point in the school day when your head just feels full and it is impossible for you to think straight. When you reach  this point, you know it becomes near impossible to perform at your best.

Time out allows you to literally unplug, sort through your thoughts and to let go  of the mental load that you may have been carrying.


2. Gain new perspective


When you are in the ‘thick of it’ it is extremely difficult to have the clarity of mind needed to truly examine how you are ‘showing up’ in your role. Old habits continue to repeat themselves, producing the same dissatisfying results.

When you take time out, there is a distance between you, your role and  your context. This distance allows you to view circumstances from a new perspectives, and also equips you to re-enter your workspace with a renewed mindset.

3. Chance to Re-connect with what matters most


 Your vision, your passion, your purpose, surely these should be the drivers for the work that you do and not the fear of OFSTED. As others have said, “It is impossible to put a price on the profound benefits of being helped to connect with what matters most to you.”

But I am sure as a School Leader, you can identify what the benefits would be for you and your school, if you were helped, [particularly within this present climate,] to  reconnect with what matters most to you.

For many, I know that when they have been helped to reconnect with what matters most, they have let go of their leadership masks and re-connected with increased passion and conviction to their authentic selves.

So learn to let go of the guilt and embrace the truth that you are a very special individual, with a very special role to play as the leader of your school. When you make the time to prioritise the meeting of your needs everyone benefits!

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…

Learn more


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