Posts Tagged ‘leadership’

What’s the Team Vision?

February 19, 2013

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It’s quite commonplace for a school or organisation to have a vision, and previous blog posts have discussed why this is useful and how you might go about creating and implementing one.

But what about the teams within the school? The Key Stage teams, for example. What is their vision – if, in fact, they have one?

Personally, I see no reason why teams within a school shouldn’t have their own vision, provided it supports the school’s overall vision.

Here’s an exercise that you can do with your team to develop the team vision.

Developing the smaller team vision

  • Split into groups of 3 or 4
  • Ask them the question: “What do you want our team to achieve by the end of this term / school year?”
  • Alternatively, ask: “What do we want the children in our team to have achieved by the end of this term?”
  • Tell each group to prepare a news report that will outline the team’s success at the end of the given time scale.
  • Encourage them to be creative and think wider than they’ve done previously
  • Remind them it’s not just about numbers/results!!
  • Encourage them to draw on team members’ strengths and aspirations when considering what can be achieved

Share and compare the news reports. This can prove quite interesting, as you could get lots of different reports! But what’s most useful is that ideas & strengths will come from it that were previously untapped or unknown.

This then opens up the discussion within the team about what your vision could be. At this point, you may decide to share the whole school vision and see how the team vision could support it.

I’ve had some interesting outcomes when doing this exercise with teams, as well as a lot of fun! It’s a great collaborative exercise to bring teams together, as well as build relationships with new teams.

If you try this – I’d love to hear how it went!

Thinking of developing your school teams?

Call me to find out more and discuss your options

What creates better performance at work?

October 22, 2012

In previous blogs I’ve shared my thoughts on some of the different styles of motivation, and how you can use this knowledge to motivate yourself and your team/colleagues.

I like the idea that motivation isn’t just about the traditional ‘carrot and stick’ approach, but can also be about providing opportunities for self-directed   motivation. The latter is the best type – I believe – for greater, longer-lasting outcomes.

I came across this video from RSA recently (love this series – entertaining as well as informative!) and thought it gave a great example of how a company motivated its workforce once a quarter (about 6 mins in).

In brief, a company offered its employees the opportunity to work on whatever (and with whomever) they wanted for a day, as long as they reported back what they’d achieved at the end of the 24 hour period. To make this easier – they also made the feedback session an informal meeting. This led to ideas for new products and lots of problems being resolved, that they believe wouldn’t have happened otherwise.

Now this example is from a software company, but it got me thinking…

What motivates teachers to do their best work?

  • Are you more motivated by being given a pay rise?
  • Does a leadership role motivate you more?
  • Or would you be more motivated if you were given more autonomy?

The research referenced in the video suggests that once the tasks get above a basic cognitive skill level, greater monetary reward for better productivity doesn’t work … in fact for the bigger monetary rewards – it’s actually less of a motivating factor!

Would you agree with this research evidence?

Is more money a greater motivator than more autonomy for you?

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Communication: speaking the same language as your team (Part 1)

September 3, 2012

Have you ever been in a situation, either as a team leader of team member, where you feel the person you’re speaking with just isn’t really listening? … They don’t get it … They can’t see what you’re trying to show them.

Or, do you often feel misunderstood by one particular member of your team? 

What may be happening is that they are hearing you, but the way they are responding seems to be changing the meaning of what you’re saying.

For example …

Sue: “James, I’m really keen to show you how I’ve organised this data in a way that’s easier to understand. It demonstrates clearly how we’ve achieved our targets in the last few months. I think you’ll notice how the colours I’ve used highlight each team member’s contribution.”

James: “Sounds useful. Tell me more.”

Sue: “If you look at this page, you’ll see each team member’s value added data, which I think will be helpful when looking at their next targets.”

James: “Listen, I really like the sound of it … I hear what you’re saying. It would be a good idea to tell the rest of the team what you’ve done at our next team meeting.”

At this point, Sue may be feeling a little frustrated! James wasn’t looking at all Sue’s hard work. He wanted her to tell him about it instead. 

This is a classic example of someone who is more visual talking to someone who is auditory. We all have our individual preferences for learning and remembering things, and we give this away by how we speak.

In the example above, Sue is using lots of visual language:

  • show you
  • demonstrates clearly
  • you’ll notice
  • colours
  • highlight
  • look
  • you’ll see

James on the other hand is using more auditory words and phrases:

  • sounds useful
  • tell me more
  • listen
  • like the sound of it
  • hear

You may not get as many examples as I’ve given in such a short dialogue – I’ve included lots to make the point.

Do you recognise any of the phrases above as ones you use on a regular basis?

Visual and auditory are just 2 of the main styles of learning. In a future blog I’ll continue this discussion by looking at a different one.

In the meantime, pay attention to the phrases and words others use to describe events / situations.

What would you say their preferred style of communication is?

(Photo credits: Master isolated images and FreeDigitalPhotos.net)

An INSET day to get the year started

August 29, 2012

My memories of the 1st day back in September …

  • Quick catch-up with colleagues; sometimes relaxed, but usually more hurried than if we’d met during the holiday in school  … a general sense of purpose in the air
  • Whole school staff meeting; taking the form of a Welcome Back from the Head, welcome to any new staff, and a sharing of key diary dates & time tabling information … planned to be 1 hour, but usually ended up being 2!
  • Key Stage meeting; often included sharing some last minute planning, but usually relaxed
  • Individual time; prep time for all staff to put the finishing touches to their rooms / their planning / backing display boards / making resources, etc.

… Plus the photocopier would be working to capacity, and there’d usually be a queue!

In terms of a positive start, most staff would be upbeat about the term and about generally making a fresh start … “This year I’m going to do ‘X’ better!” Although this sometimes depended on which class you had, and whether a tight budget meant that class support would be thin on the ground.

If you’re a Head / School Leader / Principal, what would make that first INSET day a really positive start for your school?

Ideally, some time spent with all staff together is a good idea. But if this needs to be kept to an hour or two, how best could you use it?

Here are some thoughts …

  1. Use to re-group, welcome new staff, and remind staff of successes from last year and next step targets for this one
  2. Communicate changes in curriculum / leadership / key stage roles – so all staff are aware of roles and responsibilities of their colleagues. This may seem obvious, but you’d be surprised how often this is overlooked – either as it’s not felt to be important or it’s assumed people already have this information. The clearer staff are about each other’s responsibilities the less the opportunity for misunderstandings later along with wasted time spent sorting them out
  3. Remind staff of the school vision (unless you are using this INSET time to create the vision) and provide a few minutes for discussion in pairs on how their individual roles contribute to it. It’s a great way of getting that whole staff feel of “we’re in this together” from the start of the year.

So how will you be using your INSET day this autumn?

What needs to be included to ensure it’s a positive and productive start?

Photo credits: FreeDigitalPhotos.net and nokhoog_buchachon

Taking on a leadership role this autumn? (Part 3)

August 27, 2012

In this 3rd and final part of the current ‘Taking on a leadership role …’ series, the focus is on confidence.

3. Confidence

So, how ready are you, and how confident do you currently feel about your upcoming leadership role? Give yourself a score out of 10, with 10 being most confident…

In a previous blog  – Want more confidence in the workplace? – I suggested some tips to give yourself a confidence boost at work. In addition to those more general tips, for a confident start to your leadership role, I add the following.

I often find that confidence comes from knowing what to do and from experiencing the ‘do-ing’! So …

  • Know what you want to do with your role (get clarity)
  • Know what you expect from others and communicate this clearly
  • Know what others want. What do your team members need to do their job effectively?
    • Ideas / resources / time to talk through their concerns?
    • Mentoring / coaching / training?
    • By setting aside a few minutes each week in the first few weeks to identify staff needs, you can address these quickly. Even if you aren’t able to provide for everyone’s needs, you can at least tell them why, and they’ll hopefully respect you for it. It shows you’re listening and doing what you can.
  • Know how to create opportunities for early wins, for yourself as well as relevant stakeholders. Building on this success helps build confidence – both in yourself and others’ confidence in you!
  • Know that it’s OK for things not to go according to plan – you can make adjustments and get back on track. Learning from these types of situations increases experience, which builds confidence.

If you scored yourself less than 7/10 earlier, try some of the confidence building strategies suggested above.

These are only a few suggestions.

  • What others can you think of?
  • If you have some leadership experience already, how have you ensured a confident start to that role?

Image: FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Taking on a leadership role this autumn? (Part 2)

August 26, 2012

So how’s your preparation going for the start of the new term (if you haven’t already started!)? And does it include prep for a new leadership role?

In Part 1 I introduced the first of 3 key areas that will help to ensure a successful start. This blog looks at the second.

2. Communication

Once you’re clear about your leadership role, what’s expected of you, what your goals/targets are, and what their achievement will look like by the end of the year … what’s the 1st thing you’ll want to communicate to your peers/team(s)?

  • Your plans for the term/year?
  • Your expectations of all those involved with your leadership area?
  • Targets and deadlines?
  • Ideas, hints & tips, expertise sharing?

What you choose to communicate first may depend on your circumstances, what your leadership role is for, and your style of leadership.

For example …

1. If you are new to the school and taking on leadership of a Key Stage, you may decide to ask lots of questions – for information gathering purposes – before you decide how you want to develop this area of the school/the staff.

2. If you are leading a curriculum area and you have already established expertise and experience in that area, you may want to offer help/guidance to other staff as part of the planning or assessment process.

3. If you are taking on a new headship, you may already have a clear vision which you want to communicate from the start (or open up to discussion and development with all staff).

As you will have clarity for yourself about what you want to achieve, help others be clear about what you need from them…

  • When telling other staff what they need from them, it’s easy to forget that people have preferences for learning and retaining information; most common ones are Visual, Auditory and Kinaesthetic styles (more on this in a couple of weeks). For the moment, remember to include showing as well as telling them what you need, and where possible provide opportunities for staff to learn by doing, experiencing or trial & error methods.
  • In order to meet your own deadlines, if these involve relying on others for data, policy input, work samples etc, it makes sense – where possible – to provide them with a deadline that is about a week before yours, to allow for any unforeseen delays.

What do you think is the most important thing to communicate at the beginning of a leadership role to ensure a successful start?

Image: FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Taking on a leadership role this autumn? (Part 1)

August 7, 2012

Whether you’re taking on a new curriculum area, a key stage responsibility, leading a specific project, becoming head of department, assistant head, deputy head, or head this autumn, you’ll no doubt have already started thinking about (if not planning too) what you’ll be doing.

So how will you ensure a successful start?

Whatever role you are taking on, there are 3 key things that I believe will help to ensure you make a successful start. This blog looks at the first one.

1. Clarity

Making a good start involves having clarity from the knowledge of what’s expected of you. The number of senior leaders I’ve worked with over the last few years who have had that clarity about their leadership role have been outweighed by those who haven’t. In the hussle and bussle of school life, where everyone has their own list of jobs, it’s easy to assume that colleagues and team members know exactly what is expected of them.

So, some key questions to consider …

  • How clear are you about your new role?
  • How clear are others about your role?
  • Do you have a job/role description?
  • If this is generic, where can you get further clarity about what is expected of you by all stakeholders?

If you have some flexibility with the role, and can mould or create it as you see fit,  identify what you want to achieve … for yourself, the year group, key stage, curriculum, the school … and set yourself some goals for the year. Then break these down into manageable chunks for each term. Ensure you are clear about what a successful year/term will involve.

  • What do you need to do?
  • What do you need others to do?

Linked to this is setting the success criteria. What will a successful start look, feel and sound like. Identify these from the start, then you know what you’re aiming for, and there is less chance for misunderstandings and disappointment further down the line.

Finally – being really clear about your leadership role will be time-saving in the long run. It will reduce the time spent re-doing things, smoothing over misunderstandings and spending time doing things you didn’t need to do in the first place!

Part 2 looks at communication. In the meantime I’d welcome your comments on this topic 🙂

Image: FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Maximising Relationships with … #1: Your Senior Leadership Team

April 23, 2012
  • How strong is your relationship with your SLT?
  • Could it be even better?

 

Successful leadership and management of a school (or other organisation/business) relies in part on a leadership team which is strong individually and collectively.

The size of the SLT will usually depend on the size of the school and how staffing is structured (and the budget!) I’ve worked with SLTs ranging in size from 1 (the Head of a small school) to a team of 8, in a larger city school. As with any team, the larger it is the greater the potential for a richness of ideas, strengths and experiences … as well as a greater risk of conflict and power struggles.

A range of factors contribute to an effective team, one of which is a positive and productive working relationship. Heads new to a post can come into a school with an already established SLT, which can create its own challenges.

To build and maintain effective relationships with the SLT, there are several things that I’ve found in development work with Heads…

1: Clear vision – shared with (or developed alongside) the SLT

It’s important that each member of the SLT knows how they contribute to the vision. Teaching staff can lose sight of the big picture (which the Head tends to hold), as they deal with the day-to-day tasks. This is why the vision needs to be revisited and reviewed on a regular basis.

2: Role clarity

It’s also important that each member of the SLT knows his/her role in the leadership and management of the school.

– Which parts of their role are leadership and which management? 

– Do their combined leadership roles (I’m including the Head here too) provide appropriate coverage of all development areas within the school or are there gaps?

– How do you know?

– Are tasks appropriately distributed and is there fair delegation?

Lack of role clarity can lead to staff losing focus and direction, resulting in feeling demotivated. Staff who are externally motivated will need more direction and feedback on how they are doing, otherwise relationships could break down.

3: Building rapport

Building rapport is easiest with people who are similar to ourselves; it’s a subconscious thing. There’s a saying: People like people like themselves. This is fine when choosing your friends but can be limiting when choosing staff to be part of a multi-skilled and dynamic team, where complementary expertise and experiences are key.

Having common values helps build rapport, as does speaking the same language. (A focus for a forthcoming blog!)

4. Maximising strengths

As a Head / leader, how well do you know your SLT’s individual strengths (and your own!)? Not just curriculum strengths or a wide range of experience; I would also include here leadership and emotional intelligence strengths (e.g. optimism, initiative, building bonds, conflict management).

This is not an exhaustive list – so what would you add to it? 

How do you maximise relationships with (and within) your team?

(Photo credit: renjith krishnan)

Change is all about selling and empathy

February 15, 2011

28 Day Blog Challenge – Day 15

Change_1

Change is a fairly constant factor in schools, whether it comes from government level, the local authority or within the school itself.

In addition to change which is mandatory, school leaders face choices about adopting optional changes too. These range from simple policy changes and use of resources, to major curriculum and staffing changes, which include things like restructuring.

I recognise that change isn’t just about altering something already in existence. It also includes adopting new initiatives – as things often need to change to accommodate these … timetables, staffing roles, curriculum emphasis, etc.

Whilst change can often be a good thing, constant and rapid changes are often met with resistance by staff (and children) seeking periods of stability and consolidation.

Mandatory changes may be seen as unpopular and challenging by staff, so they need to be tackled positively and sensitively to ensure staff ‘buy in’ to the idea. Therefore, it’s important to help the stakeholders see the benefits to them of the changes.

What will be better?

What will be more efficient?

How will it make their roles easier?

How will it benefit the children / community?

… and so on.

School leaders need to choose their optional changes (initiatives / projects etc.) carefully. Bear in mind what else is happening within the term or year and how the proposed change will affect all stakeholders. The skill of empathy is useful here to ensure all angles have been explored. You’ll know how different staff will be affected, and can pre-empt questions, obstacles and issues.

How has your school effectively managed optional and mandatory changes? Is it the same approach for both?

A Senior Leadership Team or a Senior Management Team?

February 14, 2011

28 Day Blog Challenge – Day 14

I have recently been working with staff in schools who have used both terms Senior Management Team (SMT) & Senior Leadership Team (SLT) interchangeably to describe their senior team of staff. So which is it?

You could argue that “SLT” is just the new term for the same team which was once termed the SMT. But whether you’re a senior team of staff working in the public or private sector, I would suggest that what you call yourself is a reflection on how you see your roles.

When attempting to define a leader, you may be able to recognise one, but there doesn’t seem to be a single template to define one. In a previous post about emerging leaders, I suggested their top 3 features were: Influencing, Inspiring and Ideas. In Practising the Art of Leadership I discussed Communication, Empathizing and Building followers as key qualities. I am sure you have seen leaders who have displayed these qualities and many more.

Managing is about getting things done. Owen suggests this involves a combination or IQ, EQ (emotional quotient) and now PQ (political quotient). He contends that the latter is at the heart of managing – using power to make things happen through others.

I don’t think it’s as simple as saying ‘leaders lead and managers manage’. I would suggest that leaders can manage, but not all managers can lead.

So when a senior team of staff come together to run a school, an organisation or a business, do they believe they are leading, managing or both?

Furthermore, how do the rest of the staff view the members of these teams?

And … how much does this matter?

This blog may ask more questions than it answers, but I believe this area is evolving as new responsibilities are added to job descriptions.

What’s your experience?


(Photo courtesy of Graur Codrin )