Sunday, 16 May 2010

How to lead?

I have been thinking hard over the last few days about my impact in the school. This stemmed from a discussion about an application form that I was intending submitting for a PT Faculty job. After the discussion, I have held the form back, as I've become acutely aware of some things that I lack as a leader. They were probably things that I knew anyway, but someone else highlighting them has made me have a major rethink about my potential career path.The form in question was described as being 'full of curriculum for excellence, but not faculty leader', and I think that's a fair assessment. I had totally underplayed quality assurance and raising attainment. While I could have redressed the form and included evidence of these (I'm very happy with our results and feel I do some quality assurance well, but often don't prioritise things like presentation of work as much as I maybe should), the element of discussion which hit home most was an observation that was made regarding my leadership of a certain situation. I had brought an idea to a departmental meeting, we had agreed on the people involved and then I had not pushed the idea through to its conclusion. I couldn't argue with the facts and I couldn't really, nor did I want to, make excuses. This is the focus of this post.

I asked my professional colleagues tonight what made a good leader. From a handful of responses (I know this isn't representative), I pulled apart the things I do well most of the time, those I do well some of the time and those I simply don't do that well at the moment. The results are below
Now, I could look at this and say that the left hand side, the things I feel that I do well are greater in number, therefore I'm worrying about nothing. However, when I look at that, I see my qualities as a classroom teacher. If I had been asked the question 'What makes a good leader?', my own response would have been the ability to take people with you. Look where that lies and there is my problem. I think I have some good ideas, which I readily share, am enthusiastic about and work hard to promote. I think I am a good judge of people and their abilities. I think I'm flexible and can adapt to a number of situations. I don't think I have cracked being either a manager or a leader of people yet. I accept the answer less desired or no answer at all too readily. I don't force a pace on others. I fleetingly enthuse people who walk away and find it easy to forget, because I don't remind them (in the whole school role- I think this is something I do quite well, funnily enough, in my subject). It's something I thought I did well in previous employment, but in hindsight, didn't really. People were working to their own agendas which just happened to benefit mine. So, from this, a number of questions are in my mind.
How do I develop as a leader? This is something I intend to make the focus of my CPD for the coming year. I hope that this then helps me answer another burning question- how do I transfer my confidence in the classroom to confidence with colleagues? I demand much from students, but struggle to demand the same from a different audience. Finally, is PT Faculty or subject really for me? I think I have a deep love and knowledge of my subject, a passion for learning and teaching and innovative approaches to motivating my students. These are all attributes I thought placed me well for that job, but maybe it's not enough, maybe the other skills are ones that you can develop on the job or maybe I should be looking down a different path? In the meantime, any suggestions on any of the issues raised, whether it be about leadership, management or career path, please feel free to comment. Many thanks to those who responded to my request earlier about leadership qualities, allowing me the opportunity to reflect more fully on these points :)