What every leader deserves this Christmas… Christmas Leadership thought no.5

I share this, thanks to Viv Grant’s post (Integrity Coaching and author of Staying A Head).

Wishing all a peaceful and restful Christmas season.

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The problem with the world is… Christmas Leadership thought no.4

This tickled me.

No leader wants to be considered ‘stupid’. I wonder what experience led Charles Bukowski to this quote. Could it be a leader of people… with no people- sense?

Self- doubt happens, I mentioned that in a previous post. That’s not a problem, it can aid one to have a level of humility. It’s the leaders who may fall into the second half of the quote that concern me. They probably create chaos, unpleasantness and disorder as well as turn others off heading into leadership, or… the could in fact inspire others to be better leaders, those that feel they can do better.

What is the ‘equality’ of your actions? Christmas leadership thought no.3

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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.

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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.

Being humbly confident. Leadership Christmas Leadership thought no.2

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“As a man thinketh, so is he”. Let us look into the mind of a leader today. Thoughts of mission, action and goals. Inevitably, the drive to achieve and succeed, can take its toll on the emotional and interpersonal skills leaders possess. During a conversation with my equivalent from another school which shall remain nameless, I was informed about the bizarre and unforgivable behaviours displayed by the head in meetings. My colleague took pleasure in sharing with me the delights of having to hear condescending comments, experience the tremble from hands banged on tables and observe the shock and dismay at instant decision-making which had to face a 360 degree turn as no- one supported it.

I listened quietly and offered my thoughts, not about this particular individual but more about my concern for the staff and the leadership team.

Would anyone stand up to this? Could anyone stand up to this? Or, would this just be expected to continue and be endured?

I did wonder whether as a leader of people, would this head reflect and learn, or were they immune to the human response, and would plough forward, on their mission, through their bulldozer-type,actions towards their goals.

Of course many are not like this head, this is just one bad example f what headship  can look like and my colleague and I agreed that there are so many different models of headship that are out there, some help you decide what model you WILL NOT be.

With so many things on the mind, it’s easy to let your humanity slip now and again- but I suppose that’s why it’s so important to surround yourself with others who ‘keep it real’, watch your back, tell it like it is and bring you back to Earth, quickly!

Being ‘humbly confident’ in my view, means being able to show a strength and confidence, make decisions that are wise and timely, definitely avoiding rudeness, ‘bullyish’ and arrogant behaviour.

If you read this and recognise yourself, watch out… it’ll only be a matter of time as you  end up having to eat a big portion of humble pie… served with jokes… on your head.

“The first person you lead is you!” Christmas Leadership thought no. 1

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Reflecting on the kind of head I wish to be, if I do decide to pursue that path always makes me think of a few things that bring me to a point of self-doubt about being able to fulfill this role. Some might say, “relax you are placing too much emphasis on the job and putting it on a pedastal that makes it seem difficult to reach, you are already more that half-way there”. Others would say, “yes, headship is hard work, it is so much different to being a deputy and it carries so much weight as the buck stops with you!”. I’ve heard the latter more often I have to say.

But a head is a leader like any other. Leadership is what it is all about and although the role carries many responsibilities. “We don’t have to wear them heavily” (Thanks headteacher mentor, you know who you are).   There are some great thinkers out there who inspire and motivate the leader in all of us and I am reminded to focus on some of their thoughts, starting with the first one above “the first person you lead is you!” Mahatma Gandhi said “be the change you want to see”, I believe as leaders we role model this every day, starting with ourselves. We consider our work ethic, our principals which drive our actions and ultimately our decisions, our interactions with others and how we manage ourselves in the face of success, challenge, adversity and opportunity.

How do we own up to our mistakes?

How do we try to resolve difficulties?

What is our language like in interaction with others and are we conscious of how we influence, coerce or encourage? Do we really recognise the impact?

How do we respond when we know it all and others make mistakes or give innacuracies?

How do we respond when we don’t know or have answers?

How do we manage crises?

How do we recognise and praise?

How do we accept praise?

How often are we the last to leave the school site? And the first?

Do we have a healthy balance of work, mental, social and cultural activity?

Do you watch TV? sing songs? dance in the rain? tell jokes? write calligraphy? sky dive in the holidays? travel abroad? look after parents? have your own children? learn the lyrics to young people’s songs like Big Shaq’s ‘Man’s not hot’? and then share this with you kids? bake bread? write poetry?trek? swim? have a professional level of sport? play a musical instrument? celebrate festivals? have any other interesting hobbies?  do ‘normal’ things? (You could ask ‘normal to whom? that’s another question)

So today, as leaders, let’s think about how we earn the right each day to lead the people we lead through the leadership of ourselves. Our behaviours will always be out for viewing, for others to see.

Spare a thought…

It’s the Christmas holidays… for some of us and even if you have not broken up yet, like me, you soon will. As the DSL, I was pleased to see how we averted the dreaded ‘Friday before holiday’ CP crisis, with our foresight, communication and working alongside our connections and agencies. It takes a team and we have a great one.

Some students will be looking forward… with trepidation and anxiety to this time of year.

The Christmas holidays provide us with a ‘pause’ button just when the momentum of tasks and projects in the school year are in full swing. The headline exam groups have given us a real insight by now, of their potential, new initiatives are in full swing, the weeks have been many, the days are darker and shorter and getting up each morning feels gradually like a daily break up with your bed. For some, the tiredness has crept in, relationships may be fractious, this is where as senior leaders our skills of mediation and team- building, or even re-building, are put to the test. But, we all know the ‘pause’ button is coming, the Christmas holiday is ‘nigh’ and there will be moments to rest, refresh, laugh and enjoy, alone and most likely with family and friends.

So whilst you pack in the mince pies, drink your mulled wine and sing Christmas carols with your Christmas jumpers or PJs, in a cosy home,  spare a thought for those students of yours, not so fortunate to have the homes that any child would desire. And, if you have a faith, maybe say a prayer for them so that this Christmas they too can find some joy.

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