Reflections on leadership

What is your most memorable experience of leadership while at school?

In the sixth form I was given the role of House Captain.  I seem to remember it involved a fair amount of chivvying of younger pupils in my house, for all sorts of reasons.  I also remember taking a House assembly with a friend.  I didn’t realise it would be the first of hundreds of assemblies I would take over the next forty years….

 What is your earliest experience of leadership since becoming a teacher?

In my first school I was appointed an Assistant Head of House within a house-based pastoral system after I’d been teaching about three years.  Looking back, I learnt a huge amount from this responsibility, including helping to manage a team of tutors, supporting teachers and tutors dealing with discipline issues, liaising with feeder schools, parents and social services, and, again, taking assemblies.  It was a great preparation for the roles that came afterwards.

Which of your leadership roles (if you’ve had more than one) gave you the greatest satisfaction?

I think I enjoyed all my roles – including Head of English, Head of Sixth Form and Deputy Head BUT by far the most rewarding and satisfying was being a head.  The photograph above is of me with five Year 3 girls as a newly appointed head in 2000 – I was head of a 7-18 school.  It was hard work, a lot of responsibility and inevitably stressful at times, but it was also joyful, and there were certainly more positive days than negative ones.

Think of the BEST leader (at any level) you have ever worked with. List their top three qualities.

  1. They listened
  2. They cared
  3. They had a strong sense of moral purpose

Think of the LEAST EFFECTIVE leader (at any level) you have ever worked with. List their three greatest mistakes.

  1. It was too much about them/their ego
  2. They were too quick to blame others
  3. They didn’t pay enough attention to student and staff well-being

 Describe succinctly the sort of leader you aspire to be.

I think I may be in the post-leadership phase of my life now, but I always aspired to be visible, approachable and human.

What’s the best book on Leadership you’ve ever read?

I always recommend ‘Good to Great’, by Jim Collins (2001) – it’s not just about leadership, but there’s excellent stuff in there about how the most effective leaders operate.

Finish this sentence:  ‘Leadership is….’

….the greatest way in which you can make a difference to the lives of others (staff, pupils and even parents)

Who I’d like to complete these questions:  

Everyone I connect with, really…. I’m interested in what others think about leadership.


Image credit: Tony Woodcock

This post was first published on @staffrm in 2014

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