Leadership is a simple yet very powerful concept which can be mastered by anyone with a clear open mind. I believe strongly that anyone can be a good and effective leader in any line of work.
Kind and strong leadership also means happier and more supportive teams and this in turn will spread through the rest of the school and pupils too.
My strong belief is also that teachers shouldn’t be ashamed if they feel they need to change their style of leadership. The Covid-19 pandemic has taught us a lot of lessons and this is a brilliant opportunity for senior leaders to readjust.
Mistakes will happen, this is inevitable in the world we live in now, but with a clear and compelling purpose in mind positive change can happen. I really want to urge people that are in a leadership role not to give up and keep persevering.
Here are three essential leadership insights that can be applied overnight in your own work.
Clear and compelling purpose
Effective leaders engage others in pursuit of a clear and compelling purpose. In other words, leaders have their impact on the world through the effective and high performing teams they create.
Team building and empowering others is a fundamental aspect of leadership. Without an effective team, you will find you are incredibly busy, carrying a lot of responsibility and stress and not having much impact.
Offer direction and protection
Leaders provide two essential factors for their teams: direction and protection. This is true with any team at any time, but the need is increasing under pressure. Making sure you are offering direction and protection to your team will help them perform well, even when they are doing something new or which would previously have been at the edge of their comfort zone.
In schools the same principles hold true; SLT, staff and pupils feel safe with a leader who has a clear and compelling sense of purpose, and who remains positive under pressure.
Prioritise trust in your team
Leaders create teams, be they formal structures or informal alliances. And trust is an essential part of high-performing cultures. People will be drawn to support and work with a leader whose word can always be trusted, and who behaves with integrity. Conversely, any dishonest behaviour undermines the spirit of trust around that leader.
Political manoeuvring, office affairs, fiddling expenses or any other form of dishonesty undermines a leader’s trust and credibility. An element of being honest is to behave with authenticity.
With teachers having to work in different conditions, it’s so important that senior leaders support each other and their staff. That’s why change shouldn’t be seen as a scary thought but rather as an opportunity to develop.
What I try to encourage through my coaching is that good leaders seek inspiration beyond the present and drive their team to do the same.
Neil Jurd is a specialist leadership coach and works with senior leaders across the UK. Neil dedicated 25 years to the army, serving in Iraq, Bosnia and Sierra Leone, as well as teaching leadership at the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst.