Coaching & Leadership Development
What every Headteacher needs to know about Overcoming Stress

What every Headteacher needs to know about Overcoming Stress

  It is my belief that more Headteachers would remain in the profession if, on appointment, it was made explicit to them the link between school improvement and their own personal development.   Unfortunately, however, in today’s world of high public scrutiny and personal accountability, they are not and as a result far too many Heads become victims of stress and burn out, unable to cope with the intense psychological and emotional demands of the role.   The Irish author and poet David Whyte works with large organisations and businesses across the globe. He has an acute understanding of the interplay between self and work. He says,   “We must have a relationship with our work that is larger than any individual job description we are given. Real work, like a real person, grows and changes and surprises us, asking constantly for recommitment.”   Whyte’s words foretell the trajectory of a Head’s life. They point to a life that will stretch and grow the individual. A life that will be accompanied by an array of ‘surprises’. New circumstances that will force Heads way beyond the confines of their comfort zones and to come to know themselves in new and unexpected ways.   Because of this, it is vital that one of the first things that any Headteacher must learn to do, in order to overcome the stresses of their role, is to ask for help.   Learning to ask for help, I believe, is an act of courage as much as it is an act of kindness and compassion towards oneself. In the headship role, vulnerability and fear of...
How do School Leaders Benefit from Coaching?

How do School Leaders Benefit from Coaching?

    Over the years I have had the pleasure of seeing the wonderful impact that coaching has on both school leaders and their schools. This experience has led me to believe there will come a time when all Head teachers are provided with this support as a pre-requisite for the fulfilment of their roles.   However, in spite of the fact that the business world and a growing number of schools now embrace coaching as an integral form of leadership support,  there are still many that are only now beginning to recognise the value of coaching in education.   So how do School Leaders and their schools benefit when coaching support is in place?   To answer this question, I decided to ask two Headteachers I’ve coached what lead them to seek to coaching to better support themselves in their role and more importantly, what did they get out of it for themselves and their schools…   Henry, Headteacher of Inner City London Secondary School “I had began to feel that I was leading on Autopilot…”   1. What were the main challenges you faced which made you consider Coaching?   Before I took up Coaching, I had been at the school for 15 years and I had began to feel that I was leading on autopilot. I felt like I needed to get a fresh insight on how to be a better leader and to refresh my expertise and my approach.   I also felt I was beginning to dry out and beginning to see leadership as something I had to do rather than wanted to do. So I was looking for new ways...
Secret Headteacher – What Every Governor Needs to Know About Supporting Headteachers

Secret Headteacher – What Every Governor Needs to Know About Supporting Headteachers

Today’s Blog comes from a current Headteacher, whose identity for the purpose of this blog will not be disclosed. For the last three years, I have been the headteacher at a special needs school. When I first joined the school, it was very much going through a difficult period of transition.   The head and the deputy head had both left at the same time, and so had left the school without any real leadership and in a state of instability. So I was brought in, relatively inexperienced and without any real leadership support, to make some substantial changes. Firefighting without the equipment   It was clear from the beginning that some of my team had different opinions about what could be achieved at the school and that many of staff were struggling to come to terms with the changes that were going on. So I found myself having to constantly firefight, with no time or space to really develop my thinking and find long-term solutions to these problems.   I knew where I was going but I could only fulfil my vision for the school, if everyone in my team saw it too and fully got behind it.  I realised that I had to find a way to lead that team through the changes, to promote my vision and demonstrate that the changes that I wanted to make were really going to develop the school, whilst maintaining all the things which I believed made it outstanding.   However, I knew that to do this – I needed support; support to help my staff fully understand my vision, the...
Why Deep Listening should be at the Heart of Support for School Leaders

Why Deep Listening should be at the Heart of Support for School Leaders

  We’ve all been there. I know I have. That moment when you realise that the person you are talking to is not listening. They are pretending and the moment you become aware of this, you begin an inward retreat, silently vowing to only reveal the bare minimum of yourself, whenever you are in their company again.   The reason for this is because our souls long to be heard. The very essence of who we are and what makes us special needs a safe space to be nurtured and encouraged, so that we can shine and become the very best version of ourselves.   Quite simply, we all need to be listened to.   Following one of our recent ‘Coaching for the Soul’ workshops, one participant commented, after being involved in a deep listening exercise, that she felt guilty. When asked her reasons as to why she felt this way, she said it was because the exercise made her realise, she rarely listened at a deep level.   This is not unusual. The demands of school life, often invite types of behaviour/ listening that are not fully aligned with the development of self and others.   Which types of listening behaviour do you recognise?     Have a look at the types of listening below. These are the types of listening that because of the constrains of pressure and time, have for many become the norm in our schools. As you look through the list simply ask yourself;   “When have I been on the receiving end of this type of listening and how did it make me...
4 Reasons Your School Improvement Partner Isn’t Giving You the Support You Need

4 Reasons Your School Improvement Partner Isn’t Giving You the Support You Need

I think one of the best things that anyone involved in school leadership can do is to get someone to support them. Whether that’s a coach, a mentor, or a counsellor; it’s crucial to have someone who’s got your back. The problem is that since school leadership is a very particular type of job, it’s often hard to find support that really gets what you’re going through. While anything’s better than nothing, it can be really hard on everybody involved when when your source of support doesn’t really get that…   You’re growing.   There’s a huge learning curve involved in being a school Head, especially when you first start out. If your source of support doesn’t realise that this is going on for you, they’re not going to really be able to be there for you through all the stress, fear, and uncertainty that comes along with growth.   You’re isolated.   Even though you’re surrounded by people all day, being a school leader can be very lonely. It’s hard to find people you can really share openly about the job with — even fellow Heads are often reluctant to open up about what’s going on beneath the surface. And that’s not even considering the isolation that comes when you’re worried about the people above you looking for a reason to replace you at every OFSTED inspection. While your support may understand cognitively that you’re feeling isolated, it’s not the same as having someone who’s been through it.   You’re in a low trust/high accountability situation.   Even if you’re unfamiliar with the terminology, I bet you know...
The Hidden Challenges of School Leadership (And How to Overcome Them)

The Hidden Challenges of School Leadership (And How to Overcome Them)

You read the books, studied the application criteria, and so impressed the interview panel with your strong responses that you’ve been appointed Head Teacher…   If you’re anything like most people, you were convinced that you’re going into this job with open eyes, prepared to face the challenges of school leadership … until you stepped foot into the school on that first day and get blindsided.   “Why didn’t anyone tell me about these hidden challenges before I took up the post?”   I hear this again and again from my clients — while they are amazingly prepared ‘on paper’ for raising and maintaining school standards, challenging under-performance, and guiding the school through its next OFSTED visit, Headship in practice is an entirely different matter.   What leadership programmes, and even other Heads won’t tell you is:   School development is intrinsically tied to emotional development — yours and that of others.   Emotional intelligence only has meaning when you’re in relationships with others, and even more so when these relationships test your emotions.   School leadership is a journey on which each and every day you have to learn how to respond consciously to the stresses of your role instead of simply reacting and putting out fires.   There are going to be times when you’ll feel like a stranger to yourself as you try to find new frames of reference for handling new circumstances, relationships, and challenges.   Admitting your own vulnerabilities when faced with the challenges of school leadership isn’t a form of weakness — it’s what will get you through.   What’s more, if you don’t...