Are you a leader in a school? Have you ever been a leader in a school? Maybe you hope to be a school leader one day? That’s the expectation isn’t it? Good teachers will rise up the ladder and eventually become the Headteacher, or Principal or Rector or Administrator, or whatever you call the person who leads your school.
You’ve probably read some articles on leadership, or even some ‘think pieces’ or books. There are plenty of them about – everyone who has an opinion seems to be able to tell you what makes a good leader. You’ll have seen some of them on Twitter, on #sltchat and #cpchat, giving their opinions, promoting their blogs and showing everyone how much they know. There are plenty of courses too – you know the ones; middle leadership, senior leadership, Headteacher qualifications and systems leaders’ accreditation. You could become an eternal student of leadership, and get all the certificates and Masters points that come free with every course – buy one course get bonus points for another one. It’s starting to become a bit of a BOGOF (buy one get one free) industry, isn’t it?
The big question is – does it work? Does knowing all this information about leadership make better leaders? Does reading articles, books and research, writing blogs and accumulating all the information and Twitter acolytes you can make you a better leader? Does knowledge accumulation make you ‘do’ it any better? Can it help you to ‘be’ a good leader?
What is leadership anyway? There seem to be so many concepts and categories and styles, that it’s hard to know just exactly what the right or fashionable definition of leadership is at the moment. Is it dynamic leadership, or adaptive leadership, or Blue Ocean leadership or transcendental leadership? There are so many paragons of virtue out there who are ‘outstanding’ school leaders, how will you ever catch up or keep up with them to find out exactly what it is that they do that makes them so good? How do you know if you’ve read the right book, been on the right course, read the right blogs? How do you know if you really are a good leader, or if you’re just playing at it until someone finds you out? What exactly is school leadership?
What if it’s a feeling? A feeling or feelings that you create amongst people? Does good leadership create feelings like trust and empowerment and motivation, and poor leadership create the opposite? We’ve all known good and bad leaders, and we can remember how they made us feel, can’t we? Some of us may even be able to remember what they said or did, but the overriding memory the way they made us feel, isn’t it? We’ve all seen the video of leadership lessons from the dancing guy, haven’t we? And some of us have even used it in staff training sessions. How did he do that? What feelings did he engender that made people join with him and eventually created a movement?
Whether you’re a teacher, an aspiring leader or an existing leader, what sort of feelings do you want to create in others? How do you hope others feel around you? Do you want to be described as a good leader? Do you want people to remember the way you make them feel? Have you ever thought about what you want others to feel? Or how you will go about creating that feeling?
Will reading about leadership in a book help you? Will going on courses? Will listening to other’s opinions? What will really help you to create that leadership feeling in yourself and others? What exactly do you have to ‘do’ to create a feeling that makes others want to work with you, follow you or emulate you? How can you really ‘be’ a leader?