I have in the past suggested tips for those new to a leadership role. In this post I consider those who have been in their leadership role for some time – as a Middle Leader, Senior Leader, Head or Executive Principal - and the advice I would offer those committed to remaining fresh and energised in their current post.
1. Revisit your vision, values and what first drew you to your role.
Reflect on what attracted you to the position when you originally applied, and the opportunities you recognised it would present. Have they materialised and have you made the most of them? Do you continue to appreciate them? Who falls within your current sphere of professional influence, and what difference are you making to their lives? What more would you like to do? Examine where you are on your journey to being the leader you hoped to be when you stepped into your current leadership position.
2. Consider how you remain in tune with those you lead and how you support and challenge them to do the best job they possibly can.
Ask yourself how positive your working relationships are and whether there are any you need to strengthen. Consider whether you are offering members of your team the right balance of support and challenge to fulfil their professional potential: rewarding for them, and good for the team as a whole. Why don’t you ask them about this? Reflect on whether you are communicating effectively with those you lead, and whether they communicate productively and constructively with each other. If not, is this something you could work on and improve this year? Setting challenges for yourself, and having high aspirations with respect to your own performance and the performance of the group you lead, are key to ensuring you continue to be energised and motivated.
3. Think about whether you are working AS a team, rather than simply IN a team (Dylan Wiliam), making full use of the complementary skills and strengths of all members.
Recognise that the team you lead will be made up of individuals with different temperaments and a range of strengths, and the most successful groups make best use of this capacity. Are some of those you lead better at some things than you are, and do you have the openness and humility to admit this and to ensure that you capitalise on their talents? Are you committed to supporting their development so that they may make the leap to a new professional challenge in due course? Remember as a leader you are not expected to be the best at everything. Your job is to co-ordinate the efforts of everyone so that they can be their best.
4. Give careful thought to sustainability, balance and well-being.
Lastly, think how sustainable your working practices are, and how effectively you are monitoring and supporting the efforts of others to achieve a workable balance between their personal and professional responsibilities. Do you return to school after a holiday feeling rested and ready for the next stage of the adventure? You need to model a healthy and sustainable approach to your work if you are to remain fresh and energised and encourage others to do the same.
Best wishes for the year ahead.
Dr Jill Berry is an educational consultant and former independent school head, and is a source of inspiration for aspiring and existing school leaders around the country.