Keeping A Civil Tongue In Leadership

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Civil Tongue Leadership


Ross Morrison McGill founded @TeacherToolkit in 2010, and today, he is one of the 'most followed educators'on social media in the world. In 2015, he was nominated as one of the '500 Most Influential People in Britain' by The Sunday Times as a result of...
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How does poor leadership manifest itself day-to-day and what impact does it have on others?

School leadership is a tough responsibility. It is also important in this position, to not abuse your position and remember you are working with people…

Here are my five leadership behaviours to consider:

1. Narrow-Minded

The poor leader is narrow-minded and lacks passion, they are disorganised and fail to reflect on what works. The rarely seek feedback and continue with the latest fads, failing to consult opinion or take ‘No’ for an answer. They are closed to new ideas and maybe in a school for a quick-fix to a promotion…

2. Playing Safe

Poor leaders do not embrace change and play it safe. For example, they may continue with grading lesson observations for control which does not allow their teaching staff to take risks. They ignore the evidence for control and fear over systems of accountability in school. 

3. Power

When decision making is required, sometimes ‘power goes to the head’ of a leader. To trump this, it is a useful reminder to remember that ‘power’ manifests itself in three forms – you may be likely to find yourself with at least one attribute – to use when working with another person. 

  1. Positional – the person with the final decision; at the top of the hierarchy
  2. Monetary – the person managing the budget
  3. Knowledge – the person that knows the most information.

To bypass these decisions with ease, be the person with the most knowledge.

4. Inconsistent

The worst quality of all poor leadership is inconsistency. This inconsistent or surprising behaviour takes you off-guard which leads to lack of trust and loyalty. They provide all the bravado around the table, but on the corridors, they fail to show up to a duty spot or meet their own deadlines.

5. Compassion

We all worked with the school leader who marches the school corridors, barking rules and abuse at students. They lack compassion and do not see the merit in talking through any thought processes. You will often hear them say: “It’s a school decision … get on with it!”

Your impact on others…

I’m not denying school leadership is easy. I’ve learnt from the mistakes of others, as well as my own. Therefore, attributes all school leaders must have are:

  1. Create and nurture strong relationships with everyone.
  2. Remain highly-visible, omnipresent and accessible.
  3. Continue to be highly consistent and fair to all.
  4. Learn to observe small details whilst managing the bigger picture.
  5. To develop credibility, trustworthiness and sincerity, simply ask for feedback. 
  6. Be proactive, strategic and restless to improve all aspects of school life.
  7. Become super-organised. Always turn up on time and communicate in advance when you cannot meet a deadline.

In working environments that are stressful and time-poor, it is crucial that school leaders remember what impact our decisions have on others.

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