Yes you read it correctly. I love the fact it mentions the ‘equality’ of your actions and not just the quality. Let’s think about this, a head teacher has influence. A head teacher is the seen, by some, as the father or mother of the school guiding its children – the staff. All kids want to be treated fairly! Saying ‘good morning’ to all, from the cleaner to your Chair of Governors. Knowing when to join in conversations and not simply barging in on staff team meetings for example, expecting all in situ to immediately stop and pay you attention.
We’ve all known the child who, in spite of the poor behaviour displayed, facing a sanction, will happily accept their fate… as long as they are being treated fairly. The same would apply to the staff (okay, so it may not be a ‘detention’ we are looking at but I’m sure you get my drift).
It is one of my listed values, equality, it is important. Have you ever felt as though there has been an unfair advantage taken or been left out of important decisions, even as a senior leader? You may sense an urge to shout ‘it’s not fair’ but you would stop yourself for fear of sounding like a child not an adult in the working world.
As a head, how so important it is be to ensure that there is equity in how you lead including your ability to appear unbiased in your communication and the way you manage the distribution of tasks. Consider for example, that you want a new restructure of your senior leadership team. How do you ensure that your deputy has a job that is commensurate with their role whilst also ensuring full coverage of your say your weakest departments or your core subjects? Who do you consider for taking on the new middle middle leaders who need nurturing and guidance? Your pickings could be from a budding and over-zealous assistant head keen to do more but always bites off more than they can chew. Or, the unassuming senior leader, super efficient, great with coaching colleagues a record of successful team management but not the best contributor (does not share).
I think the thing to do is always come back to your moral purpose, your vision, mission and goals keeping the children at the heart of it all. That way, you can’t go wrong, or at least it will never feel wrong to you.
If you are a serving head, to what extent do you think about the impact and the influence of your decisions? When making tricky decisions do you consider having a level of consultation, do you employ a democratic leadership style and take on feedback before casting out a structure? Alternatively, do you have the courage to make decisions solely, regardless of the comebacks you are likely to receive but are you willing to listen to them? I think it’s really important that head teachers always consider the impact of the decisions they make, and have a level of inclusivity whenever they are making decisions, however, at the same time it’s not always going to be easy knowing that there may be some disgruntled members of your team that come back with questions and maybe complaints or even refusals to take on roles.
You don’t want the outcome to be a crushed and demotivated staff but sometimes it may be difficult to avoid, at least temporarily. Are you emotionally astute enough to even notice? The response will not always be explicitly shared with you. If you are compassionate enough to listen and understand response, perhaps you can plan for the aftermath of the decisions taken remembering to remain positive and upbeat. It’s also important to not buckle under the pressure of demand from whoever in your team you may deem to be more effective, risking your neutral position, integrity and ultimately the trust of your team.
For some colleagues, your decisions could make all the difference to their morale, drive and productivity. You may not see this visibly externally so emotional intelligence is definitely called for here.
Going back to moral purpose, let this be your guide and your intent will always be seen in the most favourable light, if not by all, at least by yourself. A sense of self- belief unintentionally allows you to become a leader with the confidence to stand alone, make tough decisions, listen without bias and lead.