Leadership, what it means to me
I was extremely lucky when attending #ReadTL15 to get the chance to attend Jill Berry’s (@JillBerry102) workshop on leadership. This session really struck a chord with me and was something that I was looking forward to with just taking on a middle leader role, as lead practitioner. I’m sorry for those people who normal expect resources and ideas in my posts, this is one more of reflection and future proclamation.
Some of the questions asked were superficially easy to answer by rote of things you are told or read about; however on a deeper and more personal level when given time to think, sometimes different or more elaborate answers appeared.
I’m at the start of my leadership journey and my definition of leadership, expectations and way I approach certain things are already changing. My skin has toughened, although I wouldn’t say it was tough yet.
What is leadership?
This was the first simplistic question asked and has a definition that often contains similarities from person to person, however there is always an element of personal fluctuation.
Leadership to me currently is that of being able to guide people forward through promoting a team ethos, said team should leave no one behind. To do this there is a need to develop and build an open community, which allows co-creation between colleagues. A leader needs a vision, direction and passion but they also need be responsive and able to navigate the ice bergs that may appear and be calm at a time of crisis. Ultimately it’s a role of inspiring colleagues and strategically being able to motivate those who currently can’t self-motivate. Sometimes you have to make tough decisions but always with the aim of removing pressure off others shoulders and to enhance learning and the student’s experiences.
This is my current personal definition, it has already grown and evolved and I expect I will continually grow, evolve and change. It may not be the same as your own definition, but who is to say one is right over the other?
What makes a good leader?
The second of the sessions questions made me think about experiences I’ve had both in and outside of the education sector. The first words that came to my mind when asked this were three P’s, a little bit of alliteration, personable, passionate and perseverance.
A good leader needs to be able to associate with their team and colleagues, there is a requirement to be personable and understand colleague’s needs, problems and be approachable.
As a leader if you don’t have passion and enthusiasm for you subject area and ideas how can you expect staff to follow and ‘buy in’. Sometimes you may need to deliver whole school policy or government initiatives that you may not fully buy into but you need to not show this. If you do how can you expect the staff to go with you? Concerns should be raised above and not below; avoidance of undermining yourself and worse your colleagues is extremely important.
Finally Perseverance, this truly is something you need to have in bucket loads. Sometimes ideas don’t work and they continually need tweaking, or the implementation of ideas may not be right, you need to preserver and persist. However, you need to acknowledge feedback and not take it personally. Persistence wins a lot of battles, especially in terms of getting what you need for a department. In contrast to this though it’s important to know when to stop.
Ultimately a good leader to me gains the trust of their colleagues through listening and empowering, often planting seeds and letting them grow. You need to be able to not take credit for all your ideas, allowing others to grow the seeds and reap the rewards. Allowing you to feel humbled and watch others flourish from your leadership. Leadership isn’t about being in the lime light, it’s about doing what is right and developing others in the process, ultimately having a positive impact within the whole school.
My thoughts will undoubtedly change and grow over time and this is me writing down my thoughts that have been floating around for a while. It may not be written eloquently nor succinctly.
Do I believe it will match to everyone’s opinion? No but these questions may also bring you food for thought. I have a long journey ahead of me. I’m looking forward to learning, developing and hopefully becoming a great leader. I have a long way to go till I get there, and if I ever do get there and become a ‘great leader’ in people’s eyes, I will still have plenty to learn.
Ultimately though I want to make a tangible difference, if I can positively affect one more student’s life for the better, I will be happy. To be in a position of being able to develop and inspire both colleagues and students is a heady one; it’s a position I intend to grab with both hands and run with. So I would like to thank my school for taking a chance on me and giving me this position. I will make mistakes in my journey and I will often be knocking on your doors, unashamedly for your advice and experience. Ultimately though I am determined and excited this September to learn, grow and hopefully make a measurable difference from foundations set since Easter.