Leadership

20 Apr

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Being involved in the National Aspiring Principals Programme (NAPP) this year has got me thinking about my own leadership techniques and how it changed over the years. Some of the discussion and reflections I have already shared and will continue to share here.

I have been thinking about Peter Drucker’s quote “Management is doing things right; leadership is doing the right things.” This links into the Kiwi Leadership Model http://www.educationalleaders.govt.nz/Leadership-development/Professional-information/Kiwi-leadership-for-principals  and my belief of what it is to be a leader in Catholic schools.

After all this reading and reflection I am convinced that the most influential person in a school community is the principal, followed by an effective Senior Leadership Team. For all the talk of distributive (see Burnham’s article last week) shared leadership, there is an intangible aspect to the Senior Leadership Team that shapes the whole school culture.

No easy job. Senior Leaders have to deal with paperwork and compliance to policies and mandates whiste trying to lead the way for innovation. They are in a place where they have to lead and manage. A principal is a budget master, a PR coordinator, a liability manager, an instructional leader, a teacher evaluator, a coach, an advocate for students, a disciplinarian, a bridge to the community, a communicator to parents, among other things. They are tasked with being flexible while creating sustainable procedures. This is probably why it is so important to have a team approach.

Add to this, the position of leadership takes them out of a peer role and into a place that can be lonely. You can sense it sometimes among the best of principals – a heavy burden during the hardest times of the year. It is a testament to faithfulness and humility that so many of them pull it off. In my short time in the role I must acknowledge it is hard to stay positive.

Here are some of the things I try to do as a member of the senior leadership team:

  • I see staff as people not just as teachers. I want to understand identity and establish a connectedness. I try to give feedback without being critical.
  • I listen. I hope by doing this and establishing connectedness I get reflective questioning and honest feedback on how I am doing.
  • I put akonga at the centre. This means acting goofy in the name of school spirit or volunteering to be at a school assembly or having a silly elf video on the morning announcements. But it also means reminding teachers of good instruction and a more positive approach to discipline.
  • Building and understanding positive culture. We’ve had surprise morning teas and small gifts or notes sent to us that affirm us. These things go a long way.
  • They build systems that work. Although the relational side is huge, it is also nice to have a place that “runs smoothly.” I hope it makes my place a good place to work.
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