Being thrust into a leadership role demands a lot from any individual. Some shine into leadership roles, whereas others can abuse the power they hold misdirecting policies, individuals or initiatives. In terms of education, leadership has a responsibility to develop staff, encouraging and empower them to avoid gaps appearing in our own school contexts.
If all schools are forward thinking and staff orientated, a leadership gap shouldn’t exist, yet – it can be argued – there is a leadership gap between what a good leader should do and what actually happens. One problem identified with leadership within education is that leaders in schools are still only teachers with little or no management or leadership training, often pulled up into such roles because of who they know, rather than the skills actually required.
So, what can a great leader achieve that others cannot? Here are ten top attributes shared from the accompanying #UKEdChat session (see archive for credits)
- Inspire – They can get other staff on side and push through innovative strategies that can make a real difference to student outcomes.
- Value – Creating an environment where people feel valued and ready to take on the challenges knowing that they will be supported and encouraged even with the chance of failure.
- Change – But need to listen to views, collaborate and set a vision.
- Team – Create a real sense of team, working collectively for/toward the end goal. Mutual accountability. They lead, inspire, support rather than telling others and micromanage, lie/deceive.
- Empower – A ‘great’ leader is empowered by experience & the staff they build around them. If I’m the only ‘great’ staff leader capable of doing something in my school, I’m not a great leader at all!
- Humble – Subscribes to the idea that if you are the smartest person in the room, you’re in the wrong room.
- Forges Paths – Isn’t just reactive but forges a clear path which others can follow. Their direction of travel is bold, sometimes counter-cultural and in the best interests of the organisation and its people.
- Direction – A great leader can pull together a group of individuals into a team and lead them with a clear sense of direction and everyone behind them.
- Integrity – A good leader should own their mistakes – not blame others and completely deny their own errors.
- Embrace – The great leaders are not the strongest, they are the ones who are honest about their weaknesses. The great leaders are not the smartest; they are the ones who admit how much they don’t know. The great leaders can’t do everything; they are the ones who look to others to help them.
Some people seem to be natural leaders, whereas other individuals appear to lack natural skills that are warmed to, but developing leadership skills can make all the difference within the work environment.
Some key skills that should be developed include clear communication, approachability, a degree of flexibility, awareness of staffs strengths & skills, motivated and motivational and always professional. Actively listening to their team and creating an environment where the feel valued can also make a positive impact, along with just making people feel wanted/valued.
Actually, know your team – their strengths & skills and get them to do that stuff. Encourage, support but have a clear outcome/goal that you communicate effectively with all. Build that mutual accountability including self as a leader. Be approachable. Be consistent!