Posts Tagged ‘middle leaders’

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

Practising the art of leadership

August 19, 2010

Last week I suggested the top 3 features of an emerging leader were the three I‘s of Influencing, Inspiring and Ideas.

This week I’m looking at the next stage of leading from the middle, where practising leaders develop their skills.

Firstly, I think it’s worth saying you don’t stop influencing, inspiring and having ideas. You continue to build on these while you develop other skills / qualities.

So where is “the middle”? Roles such as team leader, manager, key stage leader …. could all fit into this category. With these positions come demands from at least 3 areas:

  • your team members
  • your line managers
  • other team leaders

The nature of your relationships change, especially if you’ve been promoted from within the organization, and you are now leading and managing staff who were previously on an equal level.

Effective leaders at this level will therefore be developing and honing their relationship skills, as well as showing they can continue to manage day-to-day activities, projects, etc. Several leadership features linked to developing relationships come to mind here, but I’ll give you my top 3….

1. Communication

Seems an obvious one, but I am including here the ability to communicate clarity of thought, which means you need to have clear focus and direction for your particular leadership role, as well as be able to effectively communicate your ideas.

When communicating with others, it has greater impact if you can do it in a way which suits their preferred learning style, as it builds rapport well.

If they are more visual – use visual language… “you’ll see what I mean when I show you how this works in practice”.

If they are more auditory, try phrases such as, “when you hear my idea and listen to how I think it could work ….”.

More on these 2 here

Similarly with people who are more kinaesthetic, try ….”you’ll be able to get to grips with it when you use the resources like this….”

To know what preferred learning styles people have, extend your listening skills to include listening out for specific visual, auditory or kinaesthetic phrases they use when talking.

2. Empathizing

The ability to put yourself in someone else’s position is highly valuable when suggesting changes or considering how a new policy or procedure will impact on the current working environment. Knowledge of other’s roles is naturally helpful here, so talking to them about their work (including successes and issues) on an informal basis is a good strategy.

If you can empathize with your team members, peers and line managers, it gives you a head start so you can consider their reactions in advance and think about how to address any issues and minimize potential conflict.

3. Building “followers”

Being a leader implies that you have followers, and I believe you can develop a following in several ways, including:

a) leading by example – I seem to remember having respect for leaders who weren’t afraid to “get their hands dirty” when necessary, and could walk the talk!

b) empowering others – knowing when to give others the space and time to develop their skills, thus building a more effective team. This is often about taking a step back, even when you think you can do the job faster / better, etc. yourself. It’s also about showing you trust them.

c) delivering on your promises – I think this is also linked to building trust. When you say you’re going to do something for someone, ensure you do it. There will be instances when circumstances beyond your control get in the way, but if you are consistently delivering on your promises, those rare times when you can’t shouldn’t be an issue.

So what are your top 3 features of relationship development for practising leaders?

Think about middle managers who’ve inspired you. What was it about them?

I welcome your comments and experiences on this topic.

(Images courtesy of Feelart & digitalart /FreeDigitalPhotos.net)