Thursday, February 24, 2011

Will the real leaders stand up so others can join you! Real leaders know what is worth fighting for!

Churchill spent a lot of his energy pointing out the dangers facing the United Kingdom to people who didn't want to know before World War 2. A true leader he stuck to his guns until the time was right. His leadership and oratory provided the necessary hope in dire times: 'we will never surrender'. Such leaders are rare -very few principals fit the description but it is such leaders we need now. It is time to stand up and fight for what is important. At least identify potential leaders and get behind them.

Excellent article about leadership

Leadership is about change and transformation and this is at best a risky business involving what scientists call ‘enlightened trial and error’; there are no road maps for the future.

The leaders of change have presence and are often seen as unconventional ‘mavericks, or ‘canny outlaws’, happy to cut through the red tape, but they are trusted by those who work with them for their intuitive intelligence and judgement.

Such leaders are well respected. Seen as by followers as ‘admire-able’; well worth the risk of following.

The vision behind the ‘new’ New Zealand Curriculum asks for true leadership from school principals, and better still from groups of principals working together. This is all the more important as the Ministry is distracting implementing the philosophy behind the revised curriculum with their politically orientated National Standards.

Intuitive ‘canny’ leaders are required who see through eyes not blinded by the status quo has always been a scarce commodity: one all too often seen as a threat by those who currently hold power.

Someone has to start the ball rolling. Unfortunately recognising creativity in others is not a trait I would associate with principals. This hasn’t been helped by the competitive ideology of the last decades but, thankfully times are a changing.

The dream, for educational leaders in the 21stC, is to create a personalised education system where all students, talents, interests and passions can be developed.

Such a dream involves transforming both the culture and structures of current schooling. And as there can no longer be a ‘one size fits all’ system, a range of experimental approaches needs to be encouraged with successful ideas being shared and amplified. ‘Attractive ideas will ‘converge’ that will in turn ‘seed’ further experimentation.

This organic approach is the opposite of the past top down technocratic approaches and will require action by leaders at all levels. Creating an environment for such diversity, and developing a system to tap into and share ideas, will be a vital role of the ministry.

Principals and teachers, as well as students, will need to be seen as active energetic, ‘users, seekers and creators of their own learning’, to slightly adapt a phrase from the New Zealand Curriculum. Leaders create powerful inspirational stories that give others permission, or courage to act.

Key roles of such creative leadership will be:

1. To see leadership as one of providing direction-an enlightened view of the future. Leadership is an issue of purpose not personality.

2. With this in mind, once the direction has been clarified, the three most important requirements of leadership are: communication, communication. Communication.

3. Leaders have to have a recognizable point of view if they are to challenge current expectations. ‘It is what we know already that often prevents us from learning’. - Claude Bernard. Leaders never adopt they adapt- everything is judged according to the schools vision, values and shared beliefs. Such leaders know when to say no - they control their change agenda.

4. Leadership is all about purpose. It is purpose that creates consensus, commitment and collegiality

5. Leaders focus on making explicit to the wider team what is important. To do this they limit and focus innovations, valuing clarity and doing fewer things well; quality not quantity. Such clarity reduces overload, complexity and provides a sense of security and hope which, in turn, develops empowerment and improvement of decision making.

6. Leaders manage the heart; they say thanks to those who have made the effort, they model the way.

7. Leaders always expect the best and expect everyone to continually improve; they do this by clarifying expectation and by building an environment of trust.

8. Leaders treat others with empathy and apply the ‘golden rule’ in all their interactions. They must be seen as trustworthy and must practice what they preach.

9. Leaders ensure all understand what criteria staff members have to live up to and how success will be judged.

10. Leaders hold people accountable to agreed commitments even when it would be easier to ignore. Leaders show moral toughness, seeing any conflict as an opportunity to focus on what is important.

11. Leaders give recognition to those who show initiative or appropriate behaviour, building on strengths members may have by continually providing feedback and encouraging sharing.

12. They support those who need help the most – providing whatever help is required.

13. And they encourage leadership by all to achieve the school’s vision.

It is time for real leaders to stand up, or out, to take the risks needed to make a real difference.

Creating a true personalised education environment able to develop the creative talents of all students is a dream worth pursuing.

'If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader'.John Quincy Adams

'If you want to build a ship, then don’t drum up men to gather wood, give orders and divide the work.Rather teach them to yearn for the far and endless sea'. Antoine de Saint Exupery

'In times of change,
learners inherit the earth,
while the learned find
themselves beautifully
equipped to deal with a
world that no longer exists'
. Eric Hoffer

'Leadership and
learning are
to each other'
John F Kennedy


Anonymous said...

Replace the word leader with teacher and all the points still apply - that is if we are talking about creative teachers.

Unknown said...

Bruce - thought you and your fellow bloggers would like this post. I've added a link from my site to yours.

Take care,


Bruce Hammonds said...

Thanks Tony.I added a link to the excellent article you mentioned. And thank you for adding a link to my blog on your site.