Leading from the Front

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What can you do to help make the successful transition from colleague to leader?

Taking the lead on new initiatives within school is seldom easy, particularly if you’re asked to lead peers for the first time.

Friend or leader?

Quite often schools will seek to develop their own staff, enticing teachers to make the move into middle or senior leadership. While such initiatives can be hugely beneficial, it can be difficult to make the transition from being a colleague, friend or confident, to holding a position of responsibility and accountability. Not only can it be daunting to approach staff within the guise of your new role, so too can it be difficult to ensure that they view and accept you in light of your new responsibilities.

Establishing  yourself as a leader:

Establishing yourself as a leader is not something that happens overnight, nor with writing a new job title on a piece of paper. So what can you do to help others see you as an effective leader? How can you earn their respect and trust? Below are six strategies to help make the transition from peer to leader:

shutterstock_365363396 Corporate Achievement Teamwork Office Concept

‘Model the behaviours you expect to see from those you lead.’

Image: Shutterstock

1. Fake it ‘til you make it …

Start leading. Nobody is entirely confident when taking up a new role for the first time, but we all must start somewhere. Remember that leadership is not about personal status, but the effect you have on those around you. Start to develop dialogue, both with those in more senior roles who can support you and those who will form your team.

2. Prioritise:

Which aspects of your new area of responsibility needs the most urgent attention? Are there any areas of your team that you can make a difference to? Are there any early wins that would boost your confidence and moral?

3. Be positive, available and open:

Regular, focused conversation is one of the most powerful means of securing consensus and building engagement. Maintain a positive outlook and provide supportive feedback when appropriate. Praise when it’s due and reinforce positive behaviour.

4. Be fair and consistent:

It is important to know your team and to ensure that everybody feels valued. Avoid cliques at all costs, especially those which may have formed prior to assuming a new role. This will inevitably lead to people being feeling marginalised. Apply expectations consistently across your team.

5. Challenge, but remain level-headed:

There will be times when difficult conversations need to be had, or staff may need to be challenged, but this doesn’t mean that you need to be challenging. Try to understand the cause of any situation you need to deal with, and remain level-headed at all times. Again, remain consistent.

6. Lead from the front:

Model the behaviours you expect to see from those you lead. This shows that you are prepared to practice what you preach, and will develop a sense of equity, fairness and credibility amongst your team.

Steven Robertson writes for Teacher Toolkit. You can read more of his articles here.

Steven Robertson

Steven writes for the Teacher Toolkit site from a primary perspective. He is a year 2 teacher in a large three form entry primary school in Liverpool. Although currently in key stage 1, he has experience teaching across a variety of year groups and has previously taught in both Lower and upper key stage 2. Steven has responsibility for Maths in key stage 1 and is a year group leader and a member of senior leadership. He is also a member of his school’s governing body. He is currently completing his NPQML and plans to undertake the NPQSL in the near future.

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