Coaching & Leadership Development
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...
The 3 Responsibilities of Every Headteacher

The 3 Responsibilities of Every Headteacher

  When I became a Head, the weight of responsibility often weighed heavy on my shoulders. More often than not, this was due to the fact that any responsibility towards the meeting of my own needs, I unconsciously placed second.   Not realising that doing so only added to the pressures that I felt.  It was only after many a dark night of the soul and more than a few tears, that I came to realise that true, authentic success was very much going to be dependent on the degree to which I took responsibility for how I engaged with the pressures of the role and the commitments/promises that I was prepared to make to myself.   Every school leader that I have had the privilege to work with has travelled a similar path. As I have journeyed with them, I have come to see that much like myself, in my early days of Headship, their path towards success has deepened when they have learned to accept three key responsibilities about the role.   Many of these responsibilities were in fact commitments; promises that they made to themselves to help ensure that they stayed true to their own leadership path and were not unduly swayed by the inevitable challenges that so often arise.   Here’s what these 3 key commitments were…   1. Commitment to their own Self-Care   This first commitment should come as no surprise, to those who are familiar with many a blog that I have written. We cannot ignore our own emotional, mental and vocational needs. These are the wells from which our passion springs....
3 Coaching Skills you need as a School Leader

3 Coaching Skills you need as a School Leader

    Good coaches and indeed good school leaders are able to communicate a belief in people’s potential and an expectation that they can do their best. Their tacit message is…   I believe in you. I’m investing in you, and I expect your best efforts. As a result, people sense that a leader cares, so they feel motivated to uphold their own standards for performance, and they feel accountable for how well they do. (Daniel Goleman)   For those that line manage others, it is essential that they have the skills that will have a strong, direct, positive impact on staff levels of motivation, and improve standards for all. Many of the skills required for this type of impact stem from coaching.   Coaching is a broad term for a process that is concerned with bringing out the best in others. There are a wide spectrum of skills that coaches develop over time to assist both the personal and professional growth process.   For school leaders seeking to develop both their coaching competence and confidence there are three key coaching skills that are the foundations for success when working with others…   1. Asking High Level Questions   Questions have the power to change both the content and direction of a conversation. They can play a key role in shaping the structure of a meeting and the quality of both the discussion and related outcomes.   In a variety of school settings ‘high level’ questions (i.e. ones that enable an individual to think deeply about their intention and motivation to succeed) can be used to enable both the...