Tag Archives: Leading Change

Leadership: Making it Happen

9 Apr


Each day that we lead we must be prepared to stretch the norm. We must stoke the flame of passion to change and to grow.

We must learn and accept being uncomfortable in the deep water and the shifting sands. And when we have accepted this, we will be on our journey of great leadership and monumental change.

I read everywhere that education must change. And here we are, we have been given n the perfect opportunity. It is understood that the purpose of education is far different from when the education system was founded. Yet, the change seems to be glacier in movement. Why? Because it is far easier to do what we’ve always done comfortably than to try something different that makes us uncomfortable.

Leadership is uncomfortable and it is messy. There is that term again. Messy play.  Even when the vision is crystal clear, the pathways to that vision are many and often blurred. We don’t know what lurks around the bend, which detour is ahead. But unless leaders take that uncomfortable step, choose a detour and pick a hill, we won’t impact change in ourselves and worse in the peers we lead.

Great leaders don’t have all the answers. In fact, they probably have more questions than answers. Great leaders are bold and patient. They ask for advice. They let others have a go. They appreciate that there is little coziness in stimulating the status quo. They relish in the deep and the uncomfortable. Achieving the goal is to be celebrated but not for long because it is time to push onward. Impactful leaders invite you on the journey rather than sit on the side-lines.

Are you ready for change?

5 Jan


Do we have an innovation mentality?

This is a question I have been thinking about over the break. In 2019 I kept in mind that we must first ‘go slow’ before we ‘accelerate’. Through reading and experience I came across these 10 tips. These are embedded themes of my 2019 blog. Funny how things repeat.

  1. There needs to be a common vision in place that contains a clear and completely understandable purpose-driven mission that everyone understands.
  2. The vision needs to connect with the strategic delivery planning – connecting overarching strategy with the daily operations.
  3. The vision needs to articulate the role of innovation encompassing all aspects of work. The innovation strategy should both align-to and integrate-with the business priorities.
  4. All staff (from all the SLT down to the front-line classroom teacher) need to understand what innovation means to the organization in a clear and unambiguous way… this means getting rid of technical jargon and management speak!
  5. The leadership needs to create and actively promote an innovative and collaborative environment. This is about creating the right context (for your organization) that encourages and supports innovation, so that everyone is willing and able to innovate.
  6. All staff need to understand what innovation means and looks like in the part of the organization that they work in (business unit, division, region, function or team).
  7. When framing the innovation agenda, all staff need to understand the opportunities for them.
  8. Staff have a safe space to innovate with appropriate support, the correct tools, skills and way-of-working to participate… and with a clear sense of purpose.
  9. All staff are invited to participate, understand how to participate and, most significantly, are actively encouraged to participate.
  10. The leadership must display courage and patience in order to truly unleash and harness the organization’s collective creative intelligence.

Reflections on Leading Change

1 Jan


I love using the above as my starting point with change. I am particularly fond of the GROW Model.

The following have been useful in creating change:

  • Provide clarity on the “why” — creating ownership and commitment to the idea
  • Demonstrate priority through the allocation of time, focus, resources
  • Offer an engaging learning community (classroom, school, system) early and often to share, problem-solve, and create
  • Trust that the culture (classroom, school, system) supports experimentation, epic fails, and continued growth
  • Embark on a multi-year quest that has regular, intentional check-ins and checkpoints (re-calibrating)
  • Explicitly prepare and train with regular cycles of feedback to grow capacity and confidence
  • Be public learners that “play” and experiment in classrooms to improve quality of learning experiences
  • Settle in and do the work!
  • Reflect on practice with others, including experts inside and outside of school
  • Provide incremental and focused expectations to help individuals and groups persevere to achieve a desired result.

How have you lead change in your own environment?


Leading Schools

12 Sep



There are too many distractions that lead teachers away from the core of teaching. Leaders know this and take detailed steps to define structures that shield teachers from any interruption that would detract their focus from all kids. Identifying negative influences and eliminating or containing them improves instructional productivity.

An analogy to the discipline of protection is being a guard on watch at a military base, making patrols and preventing outside issues from making an attack on progress.  Conversely, leaders also protect like an oncologist that watches inside the body for cancerous cells to metastasize and spread to other organs in the body.  Leaders are aware of the undercurrents and attitudes that potentially affect the organization and are prepared to protect the organization when the time comes.

When a school leader is disciplined to a high level of effectiveness, effective protocols emerge.  Effective protocols are vital to improve achievement. By going deeper into the heart of discipline, the leader’s expectations and directives morph from protecting instruction to developing adherents, better known as disciples. Disciples within a disciplined organization are not blind followers of the leader, but rather believers in something nobler.  They are followers of an effective system rich in protocols and a common vision that promotes learning and prevents issues that detract from it.

Leaders of Learning

27 Jul


This week our middle leaders (Leaders of Learning) have been doing some great mahi in leading change. It has been challenging. There are many difficult jobs in a secondary school – but leading a subject area, especially a large subject area, has to be one of the most difficult.  I’ve been fortunate enough to work with some inspiring Curriculum Leaders.  They grow and nurture teams, who then achieve fantastic outcomes for the students they teach.  As I look out my window today, I thought I might the strengths of my people.

  • Role models – they are always, first and foremost, great teachers and they understand what makes great teaching within the context of their subject and can articulate this clearly with their team.
  • Set the standard– they clearly identify the standards they expect to see on a day to day basis – and live and breathe these themselves.  This creates a shared clarity of purpose.
  • Moral purpose– they have an unswerving commitment to getting the best deal possible for the students who pass through their subject.  They understand that a good education can transform life chances.
  • Expect excellence– they strongly believe that all students can get better and be successful.
  • Pride in their faculty– they patrol their s area and make it clear to the students that they are in charge – and that the students will meet their expectations!
  • Parental contact– they won’t hesitate to call home – and will support their team with doing the same.


I believe while SLT leads our school strategically the Leaders of Learning make things happen.


Managing Change

20 Jun


I have been dealing with a great deal of change management in the last couple of weeks. This has tested my skill set. I know at one meeting it also tested my patience. This book really helped me through. Here are some of my musings then:

Reflect and evaluate.  By thinking through the meaning and implication of the feedback, you can learn from it and consider what parts to work on, what parts to disregard, and what parts require deeper understanding. To do this, it helps to think about your development areas, the value you place on this individual’s perspective, and possibly, what you have heard from others as well. This is also the time to come back to what you may disagree with. Given that your objective was to learn others’ perspectives on you, ask yourself if it’s worth the potential damage to go back and “correct” the information. Typically, it’s not.

Plan and act. All the steps before this set you up to plan and put it into practice. Pick one or two capabilities you want to improve, get really clear about what “improved” looks like, and then consider the steps necessary for you to learn and adopt that new behaviour. Planning and acting are not only important for your learning and development, they’re also a signal to those who shared the feedback — you are serious about improving and you value their perspectives.

Sustain progress and share updates. You need to repeat new behaviours for them to become new habits. If you go back to your feedback providers and tell them what you are doing differently, you’ll give them a catalyst to change their perspectives, validation that you heard and appreciated what they had to say, and the opportunity to see you as a person who is committed to your professional development.

Great leaders are great learners. Their never-ending pursuit of information pushes them to constantly improve and sets them apart from the rest. Getting and learning from feedback isn’t always easy, but it is necessary, if we want to become better. It’s rare that our colleagues will offer us the kind of feedback we need to develop, and rare that we respond in a way that rewards their efforts and helps us improve. It’s worth building the skills to do this well if we want to reach our full potential.

Leading Change at Manawa Tapu

5 Nov


Pope Francis said recently we are not in an era of change, but in a change of era.

Have we done the following in leading change?

Start by building a collaborative culture.  Collaborative and shared leadership that is transparent to all staff, students and the community provides a powerful conduit for change.

Strategic planning is a team sport.  Leading change requires a collaborative effort.  We (leaders, teachers, students and community) need to be a committed to a common purpose.

Manawa Tapu is a complex environment so it is important to fully engage all the stakeholders especially teachers and students, but also parents, whanau, community and business interests.  It is important to hear a range of perspectives around change.

A cohesive plan.  Strategic planning is the systematic process of envisioning a desired future, translating this vision into broadly defined goals and determining a sequence of steps to achieve these.  Without a plan there will be confusion and false starts – attachment

There is no easy answer and no short cuts. Others cannot do this planning for us.  We have to walk the path to own the resulting plan. This needs to be a structured and thorough process, allocated the time and resources to ensure it will be successful.

That said, we do not have to do this on our own.  Have we tapped into the knowledge and experiences of our group? It is always useful to bounce ideas off others. Connect and converse to tap into the “wisdom of the crowd”.

It is important to incorporate expert mentoring and support.  Have you engaged with your “critical friend” – someone to look over your shoulder, to challenge your assumptions and to provide both expert knowledge and different perspectives to enrich conversations and decisions.

Only add something more useful – and always try to take something away! Teachers are already overloaded so we need to plan to add value by introducing interventions that not only improve their effectiveness in the classroom but add efficiencies and reduce workload.

Have we monitored our progress and evaluate the impact of our interventions and broader plan! We need to know how these strategies are bedding in and if these will improve student learning.

Have we ticked all of these?

Leading Curriculum Change

12 Aug


Currently we are looking at curriculum change and a great deal of has to do with trust. I have learnt a great deal this week an made some mistakes. As a school leader I need to understand that change can only be made by people, not the leader, and when more people are making change, the organization is accelerating change.  Here is guide that as a school leader we must consider if we want to make change and make it rapidly.  The better we get at employing these accelerators, the more change and the more sustained change they will see.

Here are 8 strategies that great leaders employ to get substantial change.

  1. How you treat people,
  2. How you listen to people,
  3. How you create a system of continuous improvement,
  4. How you invite people and new ideas to the table of change,
  5. How you empower others to lead change with you,
  6. How you communicate the positive growth along the way,
  7. How you reflect, refine and revise change along the way.
Change is hard, but it’s really hard in a negative culture.  Change is implemented easiest when leaders remember that they’re not there to change an organization.  Th

Solutions to Coaching Barriers

3 Apr


Like any new project I have led in school there are barriers. Now I would like to look at the way of overcoming the barriers I talked about last time.

  • Accept this will take time   Don’t be impatient. Establishing a coaching programme may need to be in it for the long haul. Spend sufficient time gaining insight into the reality on the ground so that future visions can be specific to actual school conditions. This requires research, planning and networking. Out of this will come success
  • ‘Educate’ key individuals   You know who they are. Once you have that compelling rationale, back it up with case studies from other relevant organisations/high-profile individuals. Organise PLD, send staff to related conferences, and begin to organise coaching sessions for them with respected external coaches. A different voice saying the same message while frustrating for you is gold. Once key individuals can study, understand and experience the benefits of coaching they will be much more likely to prioritise it. ‘Educating’ key individuals is also likely to encourage the spontaneous emergence of ‘champions’ for the coaching cause. From these an individual with sufficient profile, charisma and influence can be approached to spearhead the creation of buy-in throughout the organisation.


  • Modification. Be prepared to change the vision. It is ok.
  • Remember, successful implementation of contextualised coaching programmes within your school takes time, determination and clear planning.  It will take a mind-shift. Interesting while this has been about coaching you could apply this to any item of leading change. What has been yours?

Authentic Leadership

23 Nov



There is no doubt SLT who develop lasting, trusting relationships with their staff build on a foundation created by doing their job and doing it well. We need a foundation of credibility before he can earn the relational capital that creates trust. Establishing your ethos on campus comes in a variety of ways (and happens differently in each unique situation). I’ll be the first to say that each path toward trust is unique, but it’s never bad to start by managing the referrals that come your way fairly and efficiently, committing to being a learner in your leadership role, and moving toward each new year looking for ways to serve students and teachers in new ways.

It is about being mindful. Being mindful used to simply mean being consciously aware of something, but it has come to represent a state of mental being that is achieved by focusing one’s awareness on the present moment with calmness and a sense of serene acceptance. I do believe there is a larger need for all of us to be more mindful, but in the traditional sense of breathing more and taking the time to reside in the moment. I am personally less inclined towards loving-kindness meditation as I feel mindfulness as a movement is a concession to the belief that we can’t change the pace of our lives. I support the mindful revolution in schools, but not at the cost of tackling the issues that require it. To be truly mindful in schools, I think we need to find our element and be “in the zone” as Ken Robinson suggests. By finding time for our passion, Robinson contends, we will be more present, more centred, more in the here and now. This is how we should construct our schools. It’s another choice.

Trust is important also.  Trust must be earned, your work as a SLT is far from over when you reach that point. Having the respect of the teachers is not the same as having a relationship with them. Cultivating those trusting relationships is vital if you are interested in creating change (and who is not interested in creating positive change):

All leaders know the power of buy in, but it is not always the quickest road to a solution. However, getting buy in on the front end of change can make a profound difference on the success of any attempt at change in a large organization like a school.

We provide this for teachers routinely, but we rarely ask for it in return. Hearing critical feedback makes us better at providing the same for teachers, and knowing the concerns of those we serve allows us to keep a close watch on that which affects those activities.

Asking question is important. Asking these questions is not magic, but it is a great start for developing relationships through conversations with staff.

As a leader, you have to walk the walk. Credibility has a short shelf life. Even though faculty meetings and PD days are important arenas in which we must excel, we cannot only show up then.


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