• Assistant head of year
• Head of year
• Head of department
• Teacher coach
• Assistant head teacher
• Teacher and parent governor
• Deputy head teacher
I've had the honour of working for and serving so many colleagues who have contributed to my personal development. Over the years, I have accumulated words of wisdom and advice from outstanding leaders across the country, who have used their vast knowledge and experience to support the leaders of the future.
The opportunities that I’ve been privileged to undertake, where as a result of being trusted by outstanding leaders. I’m indebted to them: without their encouragement I would have left teaching after my third year. I’m hopefully in the final stages, before I start to apply for headship. The series of blog posts are my way of documenting my thoughts and learning. They will be written in no particular order.
My leadership journey started 12 years’ ago. After my third year of teaching, I took up the position of assistant head of year. I was inspired to take up a leadership role by David Curry (now headteacher at Bishop Herber School). David was previously Head of PE at The Heathland School, the school where I’m now deputy head - small world!
He was, and no doubt, stilly is, a hard working inspirational leader; who leads from the front. Despite the increasing workload, David was an outstanding practitioner and always had time for his staff. Not surprisingly, David secured his first headship at the tender age of 34.
I’ve worked as a head of year, head of department, assistant headteacher and most recently deputy head. In preparation for my senior leadership interviews, I was asked by a colleague about my leadership style.
I hadn’t honestly given my leadership style any consideration. I’d undertaken various roles and hadn’t been given any specific training. I did, however, have the opportunity to work alongside some amazing colleagues who have helped shape my career.
What’s your leadership style?
Question: Can you name the leadership styles?
1. Individual control over all decisions and little input from group members.
2. Is about the lack of scope for leaders to make decisions that legitimately fly in the face of particular unrealistic and often inadequately researched government initiatives
Answers at the bottom of the blog.
The question about my leadership style, caught me out at an interview for an earlier post, for which I was unsuccessful. When asked what my leadership style was, I replied “coaching”. It was what I was comfortable with, supporting and developing colleagues.
Back to the drawing board, some soul searching, and then, while undertaking an MA in Leadership, I came across situational leadership.
Essentially, you can use different approaches with the same person. Of course, we all do this. Think back to your interactions with colleagues. You may have worked with a colleague who needs to be directed to complete a data task (S1), due to the limited amount of time available or their skill set. The same person then comes to you to talk through an issue they’ve had with a colleague. Rather than give them the answer, you use a coaching style (S2). The same colleague then comes to you with an idea to review marking, which has the potential to improve achievement. Here you lend your support and listen, offering advice and guidance if required (S3). The final box (S4) can be an aspect of the situational model, which can be neglected. It’s too easy to leave a colleague alone getting on with the task at hand. My advice to colleagues who trust their staff to delegate work, is to ‘catch them out doing some good’ and to praise them. Yes, drop in and praise them for getting on with the work. ‘Expect but also inspect’ is a phrase I’ve started to use. Provide colleagues with a safety net to take risks, allowing them to learn from their mistakes.
I used to really beat myself up, when I didn’t use a coaching style to support colleagues. Now, I’m a realist. The pressures upon us and the ad hoc nature of leadership roles sometimes limits the opportunity to sit down and coach / mentor staff. If that’s the case, don’t beat yourself up about it, as I’ve learnt. If, I’m making my way to a meeting or a lesson and am approached by a colleague in need of support, I’d ask them if they’d like to see me later. If it’s urgent, I’ll offer my advice on the spot.
I am, after all, a situational leader.
A = Authoritarian
B = Bastard (I wonder who came to mind?)
Part 2: ‘Managing difficult conversations' to follow #LeadershipLessons