What does leadership really require?

I’m preparing to co-host a workshop at a forthcoming conference.  The aim of the workshop is to encourage participants to explore how schools can develop leadership capacity in any role.

In considering what lies beneath this topic, I feel there are 5 ways in which schools and organisations can support the development of this capacity.

  1. Creating Culture.  Starting at the top, Head and Governors, the school as a whole must embrace the notion that leadership is manifest in the role of every member of staff, in some way, at some juncture.  It is recognising these manifestations that will develop and effective culture of support and encouragement.
  2. Professional Development Pathways.  Whether within school or through hubs or teaching and learning alliances, the availability and promotion of professional development is essential within a school that values its supportive culture.  Opportunity needs to be given, but there needs to be encouragement to look for and then take it for the better development of the school.
  3. Role-modelling.  Leadership attributes are, can be, many and varied.  If others are to build their understanding of how leadership works, then they have to be able to see how these attributes are lived out and how they impact the workplace.
  4. Well-being. The Senior Leadership Teams are responsible for the development and sustainability of colleagues’ well-being, physical and mental health.  Developing capacity in people requires care over how motivation and productivity works.  Happy, healthy staff, make for happy, healthy schools.
  5. Start with assuming the best in people.  Lao Tzu is quoted: “A leader is at his best when people barely knows he exists, when his work is done, his aim fulfilled, the will say: ‘We did it ourselves’.”  Developing capacity starts with providing the space, professional and psychological, for people to fill.  It is the role of school leaders to fill this space, but not with themselves!

The workshop itself, will provide feedback from others across the staff team about how leadership can be developed in any role.

The sole aim of school leadership is to provide positive impact on the growth and development of the children in school, socially, emotionally and academically.  This cannot be forgotten.  It is only in an integrated system, where capacity building through enlightened leadership exists, that the sparks and fire of inspirational learning and opportunity for the children can be ignited.


Published by Neil Jones

Free School Principal, writing on leadership in schools. Education anorak, a fan of the learning potential in the social web and of Leyton Orient FC.

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  1. You’ve accidentally inspired me to do two things today that I wasn’t planning to. I hope that bodes well for your workshop!
    A useful quote to remind your participants how leadership permeates all roles that impact on children’s development might be:
    “If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader.” John Quincy Adams (a US president, no less!)

  2. Love the quote – other more current US presidents would do well to read their history!
    I’m glad I’ve inspired – accidentally or otherwise!

  3. Talking of learning from history, I stumbled across this blog ‘Leadership lessons from the Pharoahs of Egypt’ a few days ago:

    I may just be a cynical female, but its political correctness made me smile:
    1. A few women did indeed play important roles in ancient Egypt, but the author seems to include a gratuitous number of references to women.
    2. The author studiously ignores Cleopatra – without doubt the best known female Egyptian pharaoh and arguably the one with the most shrewd leadership strategies.
    Enjoy 🙂

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