Coaching & Leadership Development
What is Authentic Leadership?

What is Authentic Leadership?

This blog comes from the principal of the British School Muscat in Oman, Kai Vacher (@PrincipalMuscat). An original version of this blog can be found here. Leadership has never been a hotter topic. Distrust of those at the top seems to be at an all-time high, with politicians and high-profile chief executives repeatedly found to be lacking integrity. People want to be led by someone real; an authentic leader. But what does that mean? How do authentic leaders lead and behave? How can we distinguish the authentic leader from the tyrant? These questions are important when we are looking for the leaders of a country, but they are just as crucial when we think about the leaders of our schools. To thine own self, be true   The notion of authentic leadership is not new. Shakespeare was pressing the importance of leaders driven by ethical and honest morals more than 400 years ago. Whether it’s King Lear’s ego dividing his kingdom and family, or Macbeth’s maniacal hunger for power causing his own tragic downfall, we can see similar storylines playing out in the contemporary world. “This above all: to thine own self be true, And it must follow, as the night the day, Thou canst not then be false to any man.” Shakespeare coined this definition of authentic leadership in Hamlet. There are many ways in which to interpret these words of wisdom. Mahatma Gandhi perhaps expressed the notion more clearly to the modern ear when he said: “When what you think, what you say and what you do are in harmony – that is happiness.” Both Gandhi and Shakespeare seem to be commenting...
Why Robots can’t replace School Leaders

Why Robots can’t replace School Leaders

  The blog comes from Emma Turner (@Emma_Turner75), who is the research and CPD lead for Discovery Schools Trust, Leicestershire.    There is much talk about future thinking and future-proofing and there are lists of jobs which in the future may be completed by robot technology.   Hundreds of thousands of people have read these articles, to see if their role falls under the remit of a yet-to-be-built robot.   But there are some jobs that we cannot envisage being done by a robot, which is devoid of emotion, empathy and human characteristics. There are some things that simply require heart to be successful. Leadership is one of those. Leadership: Capturing hearts and minds   For anyone who has followed a sat-nav or become infuriated by the lack of nuance in a telephone voicemail menu, it is clear that there are some aspects of life that require more than a little humanity.   It is unlikely that the impassioned speeches of Martin Luther King or the kindness-driven changes implemented by Florence Nightingale would have made as much difference – however well-thought-through they were – had they not captured hearts and minds.   Leadership is about belief, and belief is about trust and connection and vision. However much we trust our computer systems, our sat-navs and our self-drive cars of the future, we cannot truly connect with them. They do not inspire us to go that extra mile or to give more of ourselves than we thought possible.   Computers do not inspire honesty or integrity or the vulnerability that leadership and change requires. They are blunt, binary instruments whose very function can be reduced to two simple digits....
How to Build a Culture of Trust in your School

How to Build a Culture of Trust in your School

This blog comes from the CEO of Dunraven Educational Trust, David Boyle. “Without respect, love is lost. Without caring, love is boring. Without honesty, love is unhappy. Without trust, love is unstable.”    The quotation is powerful for a number of reasons. Not least because we instinctively know it to be true. However, for schools it works just as well if you replace ‘love’ with ‘leadership’ (in fact, some would argue that great leadership is like love anyway – selfless, empowering, sustaining, unconditional – but that’s for another blog).   Great leadership in schools is underpinned by the ability to form great relationships with colleagues, families and children: without healthy relationships, we’re at a significant disadvantage. And, more importantly, the young people and adults with whom we work won’t get the experiences or the opportunities they need to thrive.   At the heart of any healthy relationship sits trust: and without trust, leadership is unstable, unhappy and lost.   A number of far more articulate and knowledgeable people than I have written about the power of trust: from Jim Collins to Stephen Covey to Patrick Lencioni, so there is plenty material to get hold of and reflect upon.   And yet, despite this, when things aren’t working well in school culture, very often a lack of trust is the single biggest cause of the difficulty: be it students unwilling to moderate their behaviour, families wanting to challenge necessary innovations or staff unwilling to release the ‘discretionary’ effort it takes to create a really great school.   So what can leaders do to ensure that this is not the case and to help generate...
The Art of Relationships-Led Leadership

The Art of Relationships-Led Leadership

  This blog comes from the author of A Manifesto for Excellence in Schools and CEO of Inspire Partnership, Rob Carpenter (@carpenter_rob) My first headship, at Bannockburn Primary School in Plumstead in 2003, saw me make more mistakes than I care to mention. It was also the period of my steepest growth and most valuable learning—starting with the headship interview. As part of the process, I was asked to lead an assembly and attempted to deliver the ‘long spoons’ story—Google it if you haven’t used it before, it’s a good one—just don’t do what I did! On this occasion, it resulted in 250 pupils scrambling for sweets across the hall, all health and safety protocols abandoned as governors watched in shock, clip-boards to hand. Remarkably, they still appointed me—something which I will be forever grateful! The first two years in post were a bit of a mess, to be honest, but they set me up to understand the power of relational leadership. Having taught through the introduction of the literacy and maths hours, I was obsessed with national strategy implementation—the flat-pack-furniture-approach to school improvement. This involved measuring anything that moved and lessons were timed to the minute. Teachers were judged and graded, depending on how slickly they could manipulate a counting stick or wave number fans around. Staff meetings were instructional—the milkman delivery method of training, rather than a design model. As for recruitment, I appointed teachers like football managers sign new players: SLEs, advanced skills teachers and expert professionals were all on my shopping list. Star signings were unveiled to parents, staff and governors with great fanfare. To...
4 Major Types of Educational Leadership

4 Major Types of Educational Leadership

  This blog comes from writer of the @AdvocateforEd, activist and former Dean of the School of Education, Psychology, & Interdisciplinary Studies at Virginia Union University, Dr. Matthew Lynch.   There are four major styles of leadership which apply well in the educational setting.   While each of these styles has its good points, there is a wide berth of variation, and in fact, transformational leadership is truly an amalgamation of the best attributes of the other three. So let’s explore how servant leadership, transactional leadership, and emotional leadership compare to transformational leadership… 1.   Servant Leadership   Servant Leadership takes the focus from the end goal to the people who are being led. There is no sense of self-interest on the part of the leader, who steps back and supports only the interests of the followers. Guidance, empowerment and a culture of trust are hallmarks of this style of leadership. A servant leader puts complete trust in the process and in his or her followers, assuming that those within the organisation will align with its goal.   The primary issue with servant leadership is that it’s not viable on an organisational level, in large part because it does not keep its eye on the prize. With the focus being so entirely upon the needs of the people within the organisation, the goal of the organisation is nearly completely lost and therefore not attained.   Education happens in the real world, where unfortunately people have shortcomings and quite often need guidance in order to get things going in the right direction. Transformational Leadership offers that same focus on the individual, while...
3 Things every Headteacher must Learn

3 Things every Headteacher must Learn

  I have witnessed many a Headteacher brim with pride on appointment to their post; whether it be a first headship, second or third, there is always a sense of something great having been achieved.   This pride often stems from an acknowledgment of the personal journey many have travelled to arrive at that place. It also stems from a hope and optimism about what they can achieve for the children and young people they have chosen to serve.   Something that I have also witnessed is how ill-prepared our system is for properly equipping Heads, with the skills and knowledge for understanding the personal growth process that accompanies Headship. Scant attention is given to the psychological and emotional terrain that all will have to cross in order to successfully navigate the many challenges of the role.   Lessons which should be shared with all Headteachers are often ignored and many Heads are left none the wiser, until crisis hits and they are forced by circumstance to ask;   “What else do I need to learn, so that I can engage with this role in a way that sustains my sense of purpose and who I am as a person?”   Through coaching Headteachers, I have identified three key lessons that are essential for Heads searching to find an answer to this question…   1. Headship cannot be survived by staying on the surface of things   My observation is that Headship takes you to places inside yourself that you have never been to before. Heads have to get used to experiencing Headship from the inside out; instead of...